THE SMALL BOAT OF GREAT SORROWS

Dan Fesperman, Author . Knopf $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-41472-5

"The past isn't dead, it isn't even past," said William Faulkner about the American South. That goes double for the former Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1998, at the start of this chilling, accomplished espionage novel, the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague decides to pick up a wanted Serbian general, Andric. As a quid pro quo, the French want Pero Matek, a Croatian war criminal from WWII, lifted from Bosnia, where he has become a minor capo. Calvin Pine, from the tribunal, travels to Berlin to contact Vlado Petric, a Bosnian émigré and former Sarajevo detective. Taking leave of his wife and daughter, Vlado is debriefed at The Hague, then sent with Pine to post-conflict Sarajevo. Vlado has a secret: some acquaintances of his in Berlin had recently murdered a Serbian war criminal, Popovic, and Vlado helped them dispose of the corpse. At the tribunal, a sinister American named Harkness has been referring enigmatically to Popovic's "disappearance." In Sarajevo, Pine reveals the real reason Vlado was chosen to set up Matek—unbeknownst to Vlado, his late father was an associate of Matek's during WWII. The setup fails; Matek escapes. Following Matek to Italy, Vlado and Pine rendezvous with a former American army intelligence agent, Robert Fordham, who is edgily paranoid. Fordham claims there's a deep connection between the Croats and American intelligence. Just how deep becomes clear as the pair close in on Matek. This tight, intelligent thriller by the author of the well-received Lie in the Dark chillingly describes a world in which justice is always a negotiation between highly compromised alternatives, and history burdens every player—except for the executioners. (Sept. 30.)

Forecast:Fans of Alan Furst, John le Carré and James Buchan are the natural audience for this fine sophomore effort.

Reviewed on: 06/23/2003
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-0-552-15023-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4000-3047-7
Open Ebook - 245 pages - 978-0-307-42935-3
Hardcover - 584 pages - 978-0-7540-9993-2
Hardcover - 584 pages - 978-0-7540-9589-7
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