Email this review


So-so thriller from Evans (Dark Places, 2004) about what happens when a brave backpacker goes up against a master criminal.

Balthazar Paul Wood is not your average backpacker. For one thing, there aren’t a lot of backpackers checking out tourist attractions in Bosnia, still war-torn eight years after the end of hostilities. Paul, as he is usually called, is there because of his girlfriend Talena, who’s there because of her sister Saskia, who’s there because she can’t elude Dragan, her husband, who beats her regularly and guards her closely. Talena, Bosnian by birth, American by attitude, refuses to believe in problems without solutions. In this case she’s right, but the one that turns up entails the services of a sinister piece of work named Sinise Obradovic, a drug dealer and refugee smuggler. His help won’t come cheap, Paul soon learns. Nor will it involve money. Without question, Sinise can get Saskia safely away from her fire-eating Dragan, he swears, but in return he wants ace computer programmer Paul to participate in the building of Mycroft—the endlessly sophisticated, totally bug-free website he needs in order to increase the efficiency of his nefarious profit centers. Paul, seeing no other course, accepts. What makes it a tad easier is that, despite his better judgment, he has a sort of sneaking affection for Sinise—until, quite by accident, he discovers that beneath the plausible exterior lurk the proclivities of a mass-murderer. And though Sinise is drawn to Paul as well, it’s frighteningly clear that his finger is never far from the trigger.

The characters are likable but the story too often morphs into a travelogue.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-078236-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dark Alley/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2005