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Death of a Nightingale

Cover of Death of a Nightingale

Death of a Nightingale

Nina Borg Mystery Series, Book 3
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From the Nordic noir duo who brought you The New York Times bestseller The Boy in the Suitcase comes a chilling new thriller with a mystery seventy-years in the making.

Nina. Natasha. Olga. Three women united by one terrifying secret. But only one of them has killed to keep it.

Natasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian woman who has been convicted for the attempted murder of her Danish ex-fiancé, escapes police custody on her way to an interrogation in Copenhagen's police headquarters. That same night, the ex-fiancé's frozen, tortured body is found in a car. It isn't the first time the young Ukrainian woman has lost a partner to violent ends: her first husband was murdered three years earlier in Kiev in the same manner.

Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg has followed Natasha's case for years now, ever since Natasha first took refuge at her crisis center. Nina just can't see the young mother as a vicious killer. But in her effort to protect Natasha's daughter and discover the truth, Nina realizes there is much she didn't know about Natasha and her past. The mystery has long and bloody roots, going back to a terrible famine that devastated Stalinist Ukraine in 1934, when a ten-year-old girl with the voice of a nightingale sang her family into shallow graves.

From the Hardcover edition.
From the Nordic noir duo who brought you The New York Times bestseller The Boy in the Suitcase comes a chilling new thriller with a mystery seventy-years in the making.

Nina. Natasha. Olga. Three women united by one terrifying secret. But only one of them has killed to keep it.

Natasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian woman who has been convicted for the attempted murder of her Danish ex-fiancé, escapes police custody on her way to an interrogation in Copenhagen's police headquarters. That same night, the ex-fiancé's frozen, tortured body is found in a car. It isn't the first time the young Ukrainian woman has lost a partner to violent ends: her first husband was murdered three years earlier in Kiev in the same manner.

Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg has followed Natasha's case for years now, ever since Natasha first took refuge at her crisis center. Nina just can't see the young mother as a vicious killer. But in her effort to protect Natasha's daughter and discover the truth, Nina realizes there is much she didn't know about Natasha and her past. The mystery has long and bloody roots, going back to a terrible famine that devastated Stalinist Ukraine in 1934, when a ten-year-old girl with the voice of a nightingale sang her family into shallow graves.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    "Go on," says a man's voice. "I'm tired." An older woman answers, clearly uncomfortable and dismissive.
    "But it's so exciting."
    "Exciting?" there's a sharp lash of bitterness to her reaction. "A bit of Saturday entertainment. Is that what it is for you?"
    "No, I didn't mean it like that."
    They are both speaking Ukrainian, he quickly and informally, she more hesitantly.
    In the background you can hear occasional beeps from an electronic game.
    "It's important for posterity."
    The old woman laughs now, a hard and unhappy laughter.
    "Posterity," she says. "Do you mean the child? Isn't she better off not knowing?"
    "If that's how you see it. We should be getting home anyway."
    "No," the word is abrupt. "Not yet. You can stay a little longer."
    "You said you were tired," says the man.
    "No. Not.... that tired."
    "I don't mean to press you."
    "No, I know that. You just thought it was exciting."
    "Forget that I said that. It was stupid."
    "No, no. Children like exciting stories. Fairytales."

    "I was thinking more along the lines of something real. Something you experienced yourself."
    Again a short pause.
    "No, let me tell you a story," the old woman then says suddenly. "A fairytale. A little fairytale from Stalin land. A suitable bedtime story for our little girl. Are you listening, my sweet?"
    Beep, beep, beep-beep. An unclear mumbling from the child. Apparently she isn't really paying much attention, but that doesn't stop the old woman.
    "Once upon a time there were two sisters, "she begins, clearly as if reciting. "Two sisters who both sang so beautifully that the nightingale had to stop singing when it heard them. First one sang for the emperor and in that way caused many people's undoing. The other one resented that and she began to sing too "
    "Who are you talking about?" the man asks. "Is it you? Is it someone we know?"
    The old woman ignores him. There's a harsh ring to her voice. As if she is using the story to punish him.
    "When the emperor heard her, his heart grew inflamed and he had to own her," she continued. "Come to me," he begged. You can be sure he begged.
    "Come to me and be my nightingale. I'll give you gold and beautiful clothes and a servant for every finger."

    Here the old woman stops. It's as if she doesn't really feel like going on, and the man no longer presses her. But the story has its own relentless logic, and she has to finish it.
    "At first she refused. She rejected the emperor. But he persisted. "What should I give you then?" he asked, because he had learned that everything has a price. "I will not come to you," said the other sister, 'before you give me my evil sister's head on a platter.'"
    In the background the beeping sounds from the child's game have ceased. Now there is only an attentive silence.
    "When the emperor saw that a heart as black as sin hid behind the beautiful song," the old woman continues, still using her fairytale voice: "He not only killed the first sister, but also the nightingale's father and mother and grandfather and grandmother and whole family. 'That's what you get for your jealousy,' he said and threw her out."
    The child utters a sound, a frightened squeak. The old woman doesn't seem to notice.
    "Tell me, " she whispers. "Which of them is me?"
    "You're both alive," says the man. "So something in the story must...

About the Author-
  • Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis are the Danish duo behind the Nina Borg series. Friis is a journalist by training, while Kaaberbøl has been a professional writer since the age of fifteen, with more than two million books sold worldwide. Their first collaboration, The Boy in the Suitcase, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, has been translated into thirty languages, and has sold half a million copies worldwide.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 23, 2013
    Artfully drawn characters who are a pleasure to know populate Kaaberbøl and Friis’s excellent third thriller featuring nurse Nina Borg (after 2013’s Invisible Murder). At a Red Cross crisis center in Copenhagen known as Coal-House Camp, Nina bonds with Natasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian refuge. Natasha is arrested for the attempted murder of her abusive Danish fiancé, but Nina believes she is innocent, even after Natasha escapes from custody and the fiancé is brutally slain. Meanwhile, two Ukrainian police officers arrive in Copenhagen looking for Natasha to question her about the murder of her husband, Pavel, three years earlier in Kiev. Nina asks for help from Søren Kirkegard, a member of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, whom she knows slightly and trusts implicitly. Woven in with the present-day narrative are scenes from 1934 Ukraine, where two sisters are starving in a nightmare childhood. The stories eventually link up, of course, with one final clever twist.

  • John Powers, NPR's Fresh Air "[Nina] joins the sisterhood of run-amok heroines like Homeland's Carrie Mathison and Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Nina doesn't just have a bee in her bonnet--she has a whole hive. And it's buzzing away in her latest adventure, Death of a Nightingale, an elaborately plotted page-turner that flits from today's liberal-minded Denmark and mobbed-up Ukraine to the starvation-racked Soviet Union of the Stalinist '30s."
  • Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of In the Blood "Death of a Nightingale is a gripping and elegant tapestry of a novel. A seamless weaving of psychological depth and rocket-paced plotting, the story hooked me in and the strong, complicated, and fascinating women at its center kept me utterly riveted cover-to-cover. Nina Borg is one of my new favorite heroines!"
  • New York Times Book Review "Feminist outrage fuels the politically pointed novels of the Danish writing partners Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis . . . Nina is all heart and her efforts to bring justice to women like Natasha are heroic."
  • Oprah.com "A moving story . . . [Kaaberbøl and Friis] tell a socially conscious--and, at times, critical--tale about immigration issues that apply both to Denmark and the U.S. without sacrificing the urgency of the best thrillers."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Required reading for fans of the burgeoning field of new Nordic suspense."
  • ABA IndieNext Selection "There are two parallel stories told in this exciting mystery. The main story is about a beautiful young Russian woman, Natasha, accused by the Ukrainian authorities of murdering her husband. She manages to escape with her young daughter to Denmark. Subsequently she is sent to a Danish prison for the murder of her fiancée. There are many clues that seem to demonstrate her innocence, but someone prefers that the truth be left unknown. The second story line takes place around 1934 when Stalin was in power. Oxana, also called the nightingale of the people, and her younger sister Olga are featured. The dreadful circumstances of their lives have tentacles that reach far into the future, and collide with the fate of Natasha and her daughter. The mystery builds and builds in intensity until it is almost impossible to put the book down."
  • PLA LibraryReads Selection "Compulsive do-gooder Nina Borg is now involved with Ukrainian detainees seeking asylum in Denmark. Among them are Natasha, an abused refugee and widow of a slain journalist, and her anxious 8-year-old daughter, Katerina. The two are pursued by a mysterious, powerful Ukrainian woman and Danish security forces, who consider Natasha a suspect in her fiance's murder. Two plots gradually merge in a dramatic climax. Recommended for fans of Karin Fossum, Arnaldur Indridison, Colin Cotterill and mystery lovers who prefer plots that explore social justice and morality."
  • Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review "Artfully drawn characters who are a pleasure to know populate Kaaberbøl and Friis's excellent third thriller featuring nurse Nina Borg . . . Woven in with the present-day narrative are scenes from 1934 Ukraine, where two sisters are starving in a nightmare childhood. The stories eventually link up, of course, with one final clever twist."
  • The Boston Globe "Nina is an imperfect hero, which makes her all the more appealing."
  • The Independent (UK) "[The] latest Nina Borg mystery grips . . . A sense of mystery and threat looms large over the gloomy, ice-bound landscape."
  • The Sacramento Bee "The authors follow their 2011 Nordic noir hit The Boy in the Suitcase with this intense murder mystery, once again starring Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg. Intricate, compelling and dark."
  • Booklist "Readers who like historical fiction will nonetheless find themselves intrigued by the emotionally resonant portrayal of the sisters growing up in extraordinary times, and readers who like thrillers that touch on women's issues will appreciate the sketches of two women, one determined to save her child at any cost, the other obsessed with saving the world one person at a time."
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Fascinating and terrifying."
  • Library Journal "Fans of the duo's previous books will not be disappointed."
  • RT Book Reviews, Top Pick "The Danish duo just keeps getting better . . . [Deat
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Nina Borg Mystery Series, Book 3
Lene Kaaberbol
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