LIE IN THE DARK by Dan Fesperman


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What’s one more casualty in war-torn Sarajevo? Big trouble for a homicide investigator struggling to keep his balance on the Bosnian tightrope in this darkly suspenseful first novel. Though life isn’t exactly good for Detective Inspector Vlado Petric, he’s accommodated himself to the rhythms of life in the combat zone, illegally packing his wife and infant daughter off to Berlin, rising each morning with the gravediggers outside his window, living from one pack of cigarettes and precious can of black-market coffee to the next. But all that changes when Esmir Vitas, chief of the Interior Ministry’s special police, is shot dead. His successor Juso Kasic, the acting chief who blithely admits he had every reason to kill Vitas himself, asks Vlado to head the investigation. Given homicide’s strained resources, that means virtually becoming the whole investigation. So Vlado, without gasoline or a working car, sets off on his legwork, picking his way among ruined streets and bombed-out buildings. Armed with a list of Vitas’s undercover contacts, he has no trouble unearthing Vitas’s crude attempts to muscle in on the illegal trade in tobacco and meat. But when none of these fiddles seems to justify Vitas’s murder (and this in a city that holds life cheap), Vlado presses on, and links Vitas to a complicated scheme to liberate works of art—to protect them till the end of the war, really, he’s told—that amounts to a wholesale sacking of Bosnia’s cultural treasures. Unfortunately, the closer to the truth about Vitas’s death Vlado comes, the closer he also comes to bothering a lot of important mobsters, generals, and, yes, Interior Ministers who very much don’t want to be bothered. Gorky Park in Sarajevo. Though Fesperman’s take on civil crime in a country at war won’t seem especially original to fans of Graham Greene or John le CarrÇ—or, for that matter, of Philip Kerr or J. Robert Janes—his portrait of shattered Bosnia can stand with their bleakest work. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 9th, 1999
ISBN: 1-56947-153-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1999


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