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by Leif Davidsen
Arcadia, June 2007
352 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 1905147678

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

If you think you're burned out on thrillers, and can't bear the thought of yet another 'save the world in 45 minutes' plot which almost certainly focuses on Britain, the States and Russia, then run, do not walk to pick up a copy of THE SERBIAN DANE.

This cracker is written by Danish journalist Leif Davidsen and is a page-turner and a half. It's ominously topical, even if it was originally written in 1996, focusing on a Muslim fatwa on a writer and issues of free speech.

The Serbian Dane of the title is Vuk, whose life was destroyed when the former Yugoslavia was ripped apart. He's now a political assassin, but desperate to escape his violent lifestyle. One lucrative final job looks like offering him that opportunity – and it's in Denmark where he grew up.

Meanwhile in Copenhagen, arts journalist Lise Carlsen reckons she's got the story of her life. Iran has put a death sentence on writer Sara Santanda for her outspoken comments on the way women are treated by the ayatollahs. Lise and her newspaper are going to host a visit by Sara, which isn't being welcomed in all quarters.

The preparations bring her into contact with hunky secret service man Per Toftlund, who is in charge of ensuring Sara's safety. And the instant attraction they feel undermines the already widening cracks in Lise's marriage.

THE SERBIAN DANE is a literate and gripping thriller, with echoes of THE DAY OF THE JACKAL. Davidsen, a journalist, presents the reader with a compelling story set against just enough private life angst for the characters to stop the story tipping over into cliché. He's helped by a chatty translation from Barbara Haveland who ensures we 'hear' all the characters.

Eastern Europe is an increasingly popular setting for thrillers, and Davidsen marries this background with his use of Copenhagen where the political row sits uncomfortably in a seemingly liberal society. THE SERBIAN DANE may be ten years old, but it feels super-fresh and scarily topical.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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