STILL deeply shell-shocked in the wake of interviewing a genocidal Rwandan teacher, journalist Nora Sand decides to distract herself from reality with a couple of minutes of retail therapy. In the sleepy surroundings of a small seaside village it’s impossible to know the ramifications her impulsive decision to buy a battered old leather suitcase will have.
As Danish news magazine Globalt’s UK correspondent, Sand is on assignment with a photographer-friend on the south coast of England when she makes her purchase.
Much later, back home in her inner-city apartment in London, she discovers a bundle of Polaroid photographs secreted behind its frayed lining.
One in particular catches her attention. Its subjects are two teenagers standing in front of a sign that reads ‘Car Deck 2’ – but the language isn’t English; it’s Danish.
When Sand recognises the taller girl as one of two orphans who vanished in the mid 1980s from a cross-channel ferry from Denmark while on an outing with their carers, her professional curiosity and investigative instincts are piqued.
Attempting to piece together the background to Lisbeth and Lulu’s still-unsolved disappearance leads Sand into the law-enforcement world of her highschool classmate Andreas Jansson, a fellow Dane now based temporarily in London while studying anti-terrorism with the British police at New Scotland Yard. Complicating the situation, Sand and Jansson have never resolved an awkward conversation that scarred their once-rock-solid bond years earlier.
When the name of infamous UK serial killer William ‘Bill Hix’ Hickley surfaces in Sand’s research, the importance of retracing the Danish girls’ last known movements takes on renewed urgency.
Could this maniac – a man who kept the tongues of his female victims as trophies – have somehow crossed paths with Lisbeth and Lulu during their travels abroad, or might they instead have fallen victim to an unknown accomplice of Hickley’s, or perhaps a copycat?