A war refugee tries to reunite with her missing daughter, who may be in danger.
Years after escaping from the war in Bosnia, a bookstore manager named Gina Perini lives above her shop in San Francisco, trying to stay out of sight and out of trouble. But one day a lawyer friend says she may have found Gina’s long-lost daughter. The daughter, once Jelena and now Alexi, is living in Indiana with her adoptive parents. Her father is a fundamentalist minister who shepherds a large flock at a megachurch and manages a foundation that works with orphaned children around the world. Why would a man with so many responsibilities want to adopt a helpless, pretty refugee? Anyone who’s familiar with the genre will already have a good guess. From there, one melodramatic twist follows another right up to the bloody denouement in a motel parking lot. Melodrama works best with a sense of humor (just ask Charles Dickens!). Petrocelli’s (The Circle of Thirteen, 2015) second novel, on the other hand, is grimly serious. That’s understandable given his weighty themes—war and memory, incest and gender identity—but if Gina is going to draw a parallel between her own story and the rich history of noir stories set in San Francisco (“I couldn’t help thinking that I was about to play a part in one of them”), it should be as much fun as a noir, too.
Melodramatic but unengaging.