Back when Kosovo was up for grabs, a cabal of US government operatives calling themselves the Lucani inserted Franko Bradovic into the nearby village of Tsamet, ostensibly to deal dope but actually playing a deeper game. Moments after sociopathic American mercenary Bozi (Badger) Bazok ushered the inevitable fury into the village, Franko disappeared amid a crowd of dead bodies—villagers hiding in a cave whom Boz brutally executed. Now Lt. Col. Vernon Tucker, the brains behind the Lucani, wants to find Franko to debrief him and perhaps relieve him of any superfluous cash or drugs he may still have in custody. Boz is also in search of Franko, who’d make a perfect witness against Boz if he were ever hauled before a war crimes tribunal. Since Franko grew up in Montana, Tucker hires former local Joe Service, long a freelance mob contractor, to look for him there, and soon Joe and his inamorata, Mafia princess Helen Sedlacek, are checking into motels and quizzing realtors. Joe, in Jackson’s darkly loopy way, has fallen in love once more with the high country and seems determined to settle down there however his quest turns out. Meantime, Boz, who scorns the use of errand boys to do his dirty work, has turned up determined to find and finish Franko, and untroubled about taking down anybody who might get in his way.
This battle of loose cannons isn’t the most comical or suspenseful episode in the continuing saga of Joe and his pals (La Donna Detroit, 2000, etc.), but it’s certainly the most audacious.