Now, if you read much Scandinavian crime fiction you know that – compared to the American, British, or Italian models – they’re steeped in social conscience. This is strikingly true of the Nina Borg novels. For starters, all three books are haunted by the westward diaspora of Eastern Bloc people in the wake of Soviet communism’s collapse, a wake so violently messy that its ripples are felt in Western Europe. These ripples are felt first by those like Nina, whose vocation puts her in daily contact with Lithuanians, Hungarians, and Ukrainians fleeing their past and seeking a new life in Copenhagen.
At the same time, Kaaberbol and Friis take the migration theme in a fresh, feminist-inflected direction. They don’t revel in the usual stereotypes – you know, vulgar Russian gangsters with diamond-studded teeth or tragic, long-legged prostitutes. Instead, books like Death of a Nightingale focus on the most powerless, and thus the most endangered, of migrant newcomers: women, and especially, children.