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THE WOLF OF SARAJEVO

Well-written, exciting, and fast-paced fiction by a diplomat with deep knowledge of the Balkans.

A suspenseful Balkans thriller by the author of The American Mission (2014).

Twenty years after the Bosnian War, Eric Petrosian works for the U.S. State Department and is assigned to advise the ambassador to Bosnia. He couldn’t stop the murders of his friend Meho Alimerovic and thousands of other men and boys in Srebrenica during that conflict, and he still feels guilty. Now, in this complex story, a second war is on the verge of breaking out in a country that’s haunted by ghosts and toe tags. European Union diplomat Annika Sondergaard has a plan to stop this war before it starts, and Eric works to help her. Smart and humane, Eric is intensely aware of the genocide that has already occurred in the Balkans, one of the “great civilizational fault lines.” On the other side are men like the sociopath Marko Barcelona, who knows that “money is power and power is money.” Marko possesses a secret videotape showing the now politically powerful Zoran Dimitrovic shooting men in the back of the head in 1995—so Marko controls Zoran. Marko used to be “a worm…feeding on the droppings of his betters” but prefers being a wolf to a worm and a king to a wolf. And there is Darko Lukic, a talented sniper who loves to shoot children and pregnant women—and never misses, even from 2 kilometers away. He is “the god of death” for whom “killing from a distance was an act of worship.” Time is running out for Eric to save Darko’s next target, Annika, whose peace plan is the last, best chance to avoid another war.

Well-written, exciting, and fast-paced fiction by a diplomat with deep knowledge of the Balkans.

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17501-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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DARK MATTER

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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