Tuesday, May 19, 2009


'New man' Poul Jensen is a Danish house husband looking after his two young children and living in the shadow of his glamorous TV journalist wife Charlotte Dansbourg. 
Charlotte was the epitome of a certain type of career woman travelling around the world, following her stories and taking lovers whenever she felt like it.

When Poul hears that she has been killed in an ETA terrorist bombing in a bar in San Sebastian, in the Basque country, he flies to Madrid to make arrangements to retrieve her body. Poul has mixed emotions obviously he will miss Charlotte, the mother of his children, but is almost relieved that he can no longer be hurt or humiliated. In Madrid he meets Lars Hansen, from the Danish Embassy, and the tall blond handsome Swedish journalist Claes Hylander, who was one of Charlotte's lovers. 
Poul finds himself in a web of intrigue and double cross where nothing is quite as it seems. When he travels north with Claes to the Basque country his situation becomes even more complicated as he meets the beautiful Ogoya, and becomes involved in a plot to change the government. 

"I haven't met many Spaniards who can speak anything except Spanish."
'That's probably because I am not a Spaniard."
"Are you English?"
"I'm Basque. Una vasca," she added in Spanish, but there was no anger in her voice.

This did remind me of our trip to Santiago de Compostela in 2004 where scrawled on the walls in English was written "This is not Spain, Freedom for Galicia."

The Sardine Deception journalist Leif Davidsen's first novel was translated from the Danish by Tiina Nunnally and Steve Murray and published by Fjord Press of Seattle in 1986. Some of the subject matter of the book  seems very relevant today as it deals with torture, the fragility of democracy and the place of women in society. The Danish edition was written in 1984 only three years after an attempted coup d'etat in an attempt to overthrow the fledgling Spanish democracy. 

This fast paced political thriller is  a very easy read, which is a tribute to the translation, and as well as a complex plot has interesting character studies. It has stood up amazingly well to the passage of time and is worth reading if you can find a copy.

"What language is that you're speaking?" he asked in his falsetto.
"It's Danish, the girl said in Spanish, and as if she were a teacher trying to expand his vocabulary, she added, "We're Danes. We're speaking Danish."
"Ah, Danish," said the owner. "That's difficult. A very difficult language."

"Not for Danes," said the girl and laughed so you could see all her strong white teeth, obviously a product of Danish dental hygiene.

[Thanks to Tiina and Steve for the translation and the gift of the book]


Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

Great review, Norman. I very much enjoyed The Serbian Dane by this author (read after Karen Meek made it one of her top choices for that particular year), and have been looking forward to this one after "Reg's" recommendation.
(However, I am now completely overwhelmed by my CrimeFest haul so this is going to have to wait! one of my winnings on the last day was Jo Nesbo's Redeemer, but I have not even read Nemesis yet!)

12:31 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine.
I too enjoyed The Serbian Dane and have Leif Davidsen's other book Lime's Photograph [winner of the Glass Key I think] to read along with a huge pile from Crime Fest mostly given to me by two kind ladies. I did not win anything as my questions were not interesting enough which was lucky because I could not have carried any more home.
You are lucky to have the future pleasure of reading Nemesis and Redeemer both are very good but I preferred Nemesis. I would be interested in your opinion.
You classified one book as "Normanish" and I think that means a book contains either plague, pestilence, famine,fascists, terrorists, war, Nazis, or neo Nazis!
I have started reading The Arms Maker of Berlin by Dan Fesperman, very "Normanish".
By the way do I need to get Unspoken now I have the other two Mari Jungstedts?

2:18 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I've also read and enjoyed The Serbian Dane (it seems to be the only one of Davidsen's books readily available), and this sounds just as good.

Re: Jungstedt, they're not very Normanish, you know! If you haven't read them yet, I'd wait and see before buying no. 3, as it's not quite as good, in my opinion.(Particularly as 1.)

By the way, I have a Nesbo-related favour I'd like to ask, for work purposes - I was wondering if you could say off the top of your head which of his novels cover issues relating to WW2. Would be much appreciated!

1:27 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Lauren I was given number three Unknown by Tiina Nunnally [the translator] and number one Unspoken by Maxine of Petrona.
These titles of the Jungstedts are very confusing but I do like police procedurals and psychological thriller so I am looking forward to starting another series when I can get round to it.

The Redbreast is the Nesbo book that covers the WWII issues.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Lauren, Leif Davidsen's book Lime's Photograph is available as well.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Reg / Steve said...

Hi Uriah, belated thanks for the great trip around SW England! The conference was a blast and I got used to being called Reg very quickly. We're in Copenhagen now and made a trip to Malmø today just to scope out all the new Swedish crime fiction coming out. Ordered a big box of stuff to peruse. And my suggestion to Tiina for Jungstedt #4 is "Undead", which might enjoy some success with all the young vampire fans these days...

4:08 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Hi "Reg" glad you enjoyed the trip.I too enjoyed the conference and got used to being called Uriah. "New Swedish crime fiction" and you "ordering a big box of stuff to peruse" and hopefully translate is music to our ears.

5:39 AM  

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