Book reviews by country: Denmark

For my series this summer, I am providing selections of book reviews by country. Either the author is from the country named in the post, or the book is set there.


It is the turn of Denmark, but to my shame I have only two book reviews from that region. One is The Woman from Bratislava, by Leif Davidsen (translator Barbara J Haviland), an excellent if a bit sprawling political and historical thriller about post-war Europe, the Balkans and more. I had previously read and very much enjoyed the same author's The Serbian Dane, a shorter and more focused thriller. Some of the characters from the former book are also present in the latter.

The other Danish book I've reviewed is The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (translator Tiina Nunnally) which despite a very good start I did not enjoy all that much but that's more to do with the type of book it is than anything else. If you enjoy magical history as well as your crime plot, then it might be worth checking out. 

My Denmark reviews.

11 thoughts on “Book reviews by country: Denmark

  1. There is absolutely no shame in not having reviewed more Danish crime novels as only a few of the really good ones have been translated into English (yet).

  2. What a beautiful photo! Where are these lovely photos coming from? I want to read “Woman from Bratislava,” but will have to go to the Book Depository; last time I checked it wasn’t available but I’ll wait. It sounds intriguing. Are there characters we get to know, some of whom are likeable?

  3. I agree with Dorte’s comments about the paucity of translated Danish crime
    fiction–but I thought Christian Jungersen–The Exception(2006) was
    particularly innovative and enjoyable.

  4. The Woman from Bratislava is both sprawling and brilliant covering so much politics and history that I will probably be dipping into it for months.

  5. Simon: it seems af if English publishers go for fast-paced thrillers like Mikkel Birkegaard´s (have not read it, only some reviews), and not proper crime novels. Three of my favourite writers have not been translated, but one series has been sold to the US recently.

  6. Does anyone know or have a list of good, translated Danish crime novels? Yes, my observations of English and U.S. publishers is that now the fast-paced thriller, with lots of action and violence, some dialogue, and very little character development, introspection or in-depth plots, is what is being promoted and published. Even authors over here in the States who have written differently are suddenly writing speedy, violent, action-packed thrillers with little or nothing for the reader to think about, just quickly turn pages. For those of us who want a “thinking-person’s thriller,” that is harder to find. Some of us turn to global mysteries, but even there we have to be selective.

  7. Kathy, the best place to go for a country listing of European crime novels is Euro Crime. You can view by country, and as it is a database (a very comprehensive one), the lists are always up to date.
    Thinking-person’s thriller is a very good phrase, sums it up well!
    Thanks for the heads-up, Dorte, let’s hope those favourites get translations.
    The pictures are coming from free-to-reproduce sources on the Internet, tourist authorities seem to be a good source of attractive pictures of the country concerned;-)

  8. PS Agree with Simon about The Exception- I enjoyed this a couple of years ago but have not reviewed it. I read it because of Karen Meek’s Euro Crime review, and the fact that she made it one of her top reads that year. I thought it had flaws (especially near the end) but it was a genuinely original read and addressed some unusual politics (global and office)-sexism issues.

  9. Thanks. I found not only the Danish section, but Ireland, France, Italy, even places I didn’t expect to see and read a few good reviews, which will expand the TBR pile. “Woman from Bratislava” looks quite good, although I try to stay away from WWII genre but may be able to read this. “Library of Shadows” didn’t look like my speed though.

  10. There’s definitely less translated from Danish, even into German, which is usually my source of obscure-to-the-English-speaking-world crime novels.
    I actually read The Woman from Bratislava in English, and liked it, but I know enough about the history and politics it discusses to be mildly irritated at times – there are certain things I simply interpret differently. (Doesn’t affect the plot, but I don’t always like to be lectured at by authors. Other tastes may differ, and it’s still a very good book.)

  11. Agreed, Lauren, The Woman From Bratislava is a history lesson according to this particular author, but at the same time I enjoyed reading it very much. I thought the ending chapters were weak, though.

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