Forced into a covert operation by a cutthroat female CIA agent, Zagreb police captain Marko della Torre finds himself caught in the cross hairs between opposing factions, with little chance of escaping to safety.
Mattich's follow-up to Zagreb Cowboy (2015) is set in 1991, about two months after Croatia and Serbia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. Their newfound status has done nothing to ease tensions, as witness the murder of a cop in the eastern Croatian city of Osijek. As an officer with UDBA, Yugoslavia's once notorious but now de-fanged secret police, della Torre has the freedom to run his own investigations. An unwanted promotion to military intelligence puts him under the chilling control of the Americans. A sexy redhead who romances della Torre's father as part of her background check on his son, the CIA's Rebecca Vees takes pride in her ability to shoot anyone of any age from any distance. She has targeted an old associate of della Torre's, "the Montenegrin," who in an early flashback assassinates Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (the actual 1986 killing was never solved). In this part of the world, where gorgeous settings have a way of offsetting the gruesome violence, shooting people doesn't make you an unwanted drinking partner—even for the conscience-torn della Torre, whose sensitive treatment of a kidnapped disabled girl shows off his heroism in a decidedly un-Bondish way.
One of the year's most enjoyable thrillers, this sequel boasts great characters, lived-in dialogue, and stripped-down storytelling that for all its drama couldn't be lighter on its feet.