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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Dorrie Mowat was an English teenager of exceptional incorrigibility, who caused her mother and stepfather innumerable instances of hurt, anger, and social embarrassment before she left home to travel the Third World. Even her mother, Mary, detested her as "Horrid Dorrie". At the beginning of THE HEART OF DANGER, an international graves registration team in disintegrated Yugoslavia unearths a mass grave of Croation villagers, inhabitants of Rosenovici, apparently murdered by their Serbian neighbors from the village of Salika. Dorrie is among the bodies, her face bludgeoned, throat cut, and head bullet pierced. After Mary brings her daughter home in a coffin - outraged at the official indifference of Her Majesty's government, grief-stricken and guilt-ridden - she hires Bill Penn to go to the Balkans, find out why Dorrie was murdered, discover who was responsible, and write a report. Once in Zagreb, Penn discovers that there may be one surviving eyewitness to the crime, an old woman living in the ruins of Rosenovici now behind the cease fire line in Serbian controlled territory. Penn crosses into THE HEART OF DANGER to find the answers.
Gerald Seymour is the best writer of believable covert action fiction that I've found on today's bookshelves. Even better than the master, John Le Carré, because Seymour's plots move at a somewhat faster pace without sacrificing character development. And this author's heroes aren't indestructible and flawlessly noble like so many protagonists of the genre (especially, it seems, if they're Americans). For example, Penn is a plodding, regular bloke still smarting from being sacked by MI5 after years of faithful service in the trenches because he lacks the higher education necessary for further advancement. So, now he does grotty surveillance jobs for a second rate detective agency, and returns home at night to a sinking marriage. His is a mid-life crisis well underway. As he gradually pieces together Dorrie's last hours, he discovers another side of the girl that compels him to seek justice in her memory. For the first time in a long time, Penn has the opportunity to regain his dignity and a sense of self-worth. Powerful incentive, that.
The villain of the piece on the other side of the line is Milan Stankovic, a loving father and husband, once a simple clerk, now popularly acclaimed to be chief of the local militia in Salika. This newly acquired power, plus the memory of Croatian atrocities against his grandparents, burned alive in a church with many other Serbs during WWII, combine into a continuum of tribal violence and hatred. The banality of this evil is unremarkable for the Balkans, but relatively unknown in America the Melting Pot.
In all of Seymour's books that I've read, any victory of good over evil that may occur is of a Pyrrhic sort. It's hard to tell, at the conclusion, which side has sustained the greater loss. It's the novelty of this approach for this genre of fiction, and its commentary on the tolls exacted in real life, that make his works so attractive for me, and I intend to read many more.
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on 5 September 2017
At the turn of the 2nd millennium something happened in the Balkans, unfortunately this didn't set the landscape out
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on 16 October 2011

Although it is better than this, I encountered him first as beach reading; I never leave books to chance, i.e. finding some on the airport bookshop shelves and always take around five with me and had organised a series for a Greek holiday. I have been hooked ever since and usually have one lined up for every holiday reading. Lying on a far-away beach, it is alluring to find oneself transported to the Balkans, Afghanistan, Kurdish Iraq, Italy, the old U.S.S.R., Lebanon, South Africa and so on.

Although it is not Literature, he does not strive for that; what he writes are detailed, well-researched, page-turners and thought-provoking thrillers and, despite their fictional nature, they do ring true in many ways - the journalist in him coming out between the lines and, without doubt, he has been around as they say.

This novel takes us into the Balkans, to a mass-grave of the inhabitants of Rosenovici, a Croatian village; Dorrie Mowat, an English teenager, is one of the bodies; the international graves registration group notifies her parents who want to know how she died. They discover there may be an eye-witness. Having worked in former-Yugoslavia during the war, I found this novel fascinating.

Highly recommended
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on 5 October 2005
This is a superb read. I got completely gripped by it.
Gritty, sometimes disturbing, often moving.....but always gripping, like its dragging you by the arm through the war torn Balkans.
A real eye opener to the kind of horrors that took place underneath our very noses.
Buy it. I challenge you not to be moved by this book.
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on 18 February 2010
First published in 1995, Gerald Seymour's thriller is set during the carnage and chaos of the Serb/Croat/Bosnian conflict in what was once Yugoslavia. It is incredible now to look back and remember that during the last decade of the 20th century this region was wreaking havoc and destruction on such a scale not seen in Europe since the second world war.
As with all his novels, Seymour has such a journalistic eye for a story and detail. He really puts the reader into the heart of what is a very personal story of justice,revenge and redemption.

Dorrie Mowat was a horrid, spoilt child according to all who knew her. But when her rotting body is discovered in a mass grave in a Croat village her rich English mother demands justice and an unravelling of the details that brought Dorrie to such a violent and tragic death.

Enter Penn, a washed up former MI5 officer now working as a private investigator who travels to the region to gather information with which to fob the mother off with a report. What happens is that the more Penn discovers about Dorrie the more determined he is to re invent her as a person of humanity and bravery. In short, he falls in love with her soul.
Throw into the mix the political wrangling, the Serbian militia and the complexities of the historical animosity of the people and the fact that Penn will not let go and begins a journey of self discovery into the heart of darkness to reveal the truth about Dorrie's death and you have one of Gerald Seymour's best books.

A novel that is passionate, unsettling,violent,heroic and brave.
Do not expect a 'hollywood' ending. Seymour tells it like it is, hard and unsympathetic. That is why he is the best in the business.
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on 20 October 2014
I have now read every book that Gerald Seymour has written,with the two latest to catch up with.
He is easily my favourite author in this field, so much that I have read some if his books more than once.
This however is my least favourite. I really struggled with this one. I just could not "get into it"
There were too many characters and I lost the place and plot several times. I would nit discourage or put anyone off from reading, but I would not recommend it to anyone as I usually hand his books onto friends and colleagues with the normal full recommendation to read the books I have given them.
Sorry, but this was not for me. I stopped lots if time to backtrack on the storyline but could never pick up the thread.
I am usually a fairly quick reader but this one took me weeks to get through.
I have had a lot if enjoyment over the years from Gerald Seymours work, so I suppose one disappointment in all that time says a lot about his competence as an author.
I'll move onto Vagabond now and hopefully get my usual enjoyment.
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on 13 September 1999
topical (croatia, former yugoslavia) and very enjoyable....seymour at his best...good suspense and excellant research, highlighting the atrocities commited by the serbs and croats..unfortunately let down by a predictable ending...I sussed it 2/3 way through the book...But nevertheless...i loved it.
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on 6 January 2011
Heart Of Dangera brilliant author this is the first of his novels i read a few years ago and have read many more since and never been disappointed one of UKs best thriller writers bought this book as present for a friend
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on 10 June 2015
great story,well written,one wants to finish so that one will know what is going to happen,at the same time one wants the story to continue because the story seems to sweeps you along,a little like the "Mother River "
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on 28 July 2014
Excellent read. The plot whizzed by but never failed to be clear and sensitive. As much about the complexity of human relationships as about the sadness and futility of war and violence. Thoroughly recommended.
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