One of the crime novels waiting for me under the Christmas tree was Leif Davidsen’s The Woman from Bratislava (2001). I’d been eyeing this one up for a while, and was very pleased that Santa had been clever enough to bring it along.
I’ve not read any Danish crime fiction since Peter Hoeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (1992), but Davidsen, described by The Sunday Times as ‘one of Denmark’s top crime writers’, seems like a good author to try out. He’s a former journalist who specialised in Russian and Eastern European affairs, and has a particular interest in the legacy of the Second World War and the Bosnian conflict. He tends to use the crime/thriller format to explore larger political and historical issues, which immediately draws me to his work. In The Woman from Bratislava, a middle-aged Danish lecturer receives a visit from an Eastern European woman who says she’s his half-sister. Their father, a former SS officer, had been declared dead in 1952, but in fact went on to live a second, secret life. Oh, and his other sister is a possible Stasi agent…
All this before the first murder takes place :O
So far I’ve only read the prologue, but was gripped by its fusion of European history, secret service intrigue and dry humour. I’m hoping that the rest of the novel lives up to this early promise and will report in due course.
The Woman from Bratislava is published by EuroCrime, an imprint of Arcadia. Their website is one of my favourite places to browse for new crime fiction in translation (when I looked in today there were Norwegian, Swiss, French, Spanish and Greek novels on offer – and that was just the first page).
See later post for a full review of The Woman from Bratislava