THE HEART OF DANGER by Gerald Seymour
Kirkus Star


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Another multifaceted gem of a political thriller from Seymour (Condition Black, 1991, etc.), who has a flair for lighting on contemporary hot spots, in this case, the cockpit once known as Yugoslavia. Bill Penn, a former operative of Britain's Security Service now working as a private investigator, is hired by wealthy Mary Braddock to check into the death of her daughter (Dorothy Mowat) in Croatia. A farmer's son who quit MI5 when he realized his lack of a degree precluded advancement, the still bitter Penn arrives in Zagreb resolved to develop only enough information to fill in the blanks left by the Foreign Office's evasive notification. In short order, however, he's impelled to make a proper job of his assignment, in part because Westminster's local representatives warn him off. Doggedly pursuing all available leads, he learns that Dorrie came into the country with a young Croat she'd met in Australia. Both were cruelly killed and buried in a mass grave after the young man's village was overrun by neighboring Serbs in 1991. Having identified Dorrie's killer (militia chieftain Milan Stankovi) and documented the massacre, Penn is captured on his way out of the Serbian town. Although badly beaten, he escapes and faxes his provisional findings to Mrs. Braddock. By now, Penn's inquiries have alarmed expedient diplomats who are determined to suppress any proof of war crimes, which could disrupt the truce they're brokering between the vicious brutes who lead both sides. Penn's client nonetheless induces him to go back behind the lines and bring Stankovic to book if not justice. In search of personal as well as professional redemption, Penn again treks into the heart of danger and, against the odds, achieves a victory of sorts. An arresting narrative of physical adventure, geopolitical intrigue, and moral ambiguity in a savagely tribal world where ancient enmities have swamped the rule of law.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: HarperCollins