Leif Davidsen is a well-known Danish author of thrillers. Many of his books have been translated into other languages, and "Den Serbiske Dansker" ("The Serbian Dane") has been translated to English, French, German, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian.
The main person in "The Serbian Dane" is Vuk, a young Bosnian Serb who was born and grew up in Denmark but later became a sniper in the turmoil of ex-Yugoslavia. For reasons that I never really understood, Vuk agrees to return to Denmark to assassinate an Iranian author who has been sentenced to death by the Ayatollahs in Iran. (A bounty of four million US dollars is involved, but Vuk claims repeatedly that he doesn't kill for money.)
There are two "good guys", Per Toftlund, a security specialist with the Danish national police (corresponds to the American FBI) and Lise Carlsen, a journalist with one of Denmark's largest newspapers. The two of them fall in love (typical for a Leif Davidsen thriller - there has to be a romance), although I found this to be rather silly. Lise Carlsen, in particular, does not come across as a person who is particularly loveable.
But the most interesting person in the book is Vuk, and he is also the person that most of the pages in the book focus on. Everything that Vuk does and thinks is described in detail, often excruciating detail.
We are told, step by step, about how Vuk travels from Bosnia to Copenhagen via Warsaw and Berlin. Vuk's past is slowly revealed to us as he wanders around Copenhagen, surprised by the changes that occurred during the short number of years that he was away. Vuk contacts one of his childhood friends, and more of his past is revealed, in particular his traumatic experiences in ex-Yugoslavia. We finally begin to understand why Vuk is the way he is.
The story slowly but surely moves towards the climax, too slowly in my opinion, but this is again typical for Leif Davidsen. Will Vuk succeed in killing the Iranian author, or will the police, who are aware of him and his intentions, succeed in capturing him?
This is a very Danish book in some ways, in that many of the things that are discussed are primarily of interest to Danes. It is not as good as most of Leif Davidsen's books, but it still manages to get four stars by my standards, mostly because I like the way Leif Davidsen describes people and social situations so well.
Two minor nit-picking criticisms:
- The childhood friend is described as a total nerd who has a poster of his hero Bill Gates on his wall. Real nerds don't like Bill Gates.
- Vuk goes shopping for diving equipment and gets an "oxygen" tank. Should be a compressed air tank.
In summary, not one of Leif Davidsen's best, but still a good thriller, especially for a Danish reader or for those interested in modern Europe.