Dan Fesperman is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and worked in its Berlin bureau during the years of civil war in former Yugoslavia, as well as in Afghanistan during the recent conflict for the paper. His first novel, Lie in the Dark, won the CWA John Creasey award for best first crime novel in 1999 and his second novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows, won the 2003 CWA Steel Dagger for Thriller of the Year.
Intelligent, well-written, classy stuff with desperate men being pursued by desperate men in the hostile territory of Afghanistan during the recent civil war. It really is very good indeed. The authorâ€™s first novel, Lie in the Dark, won the Crime Writersâ€™ Association First Novel award, the John Creasey, his second, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows, won the Steel Dagger for Best Thriller and this is only his third, a prize-winner too I should imagine. Comparison: John Le CarrÃ©, Robert Wilson, Robert Harris. Similar this month: None, but try David Gibbins or Paul Carson.
A ruthless arms billionaire and a disgraced history professor share a terrible secret. Nat Turnbull is dragged abruptly from his quiet academic life when his former mentor Professor Gordon Wolfe is arrested for stealing top secret archive documents dating back to the Second World War. Coerced into examining the archives for the FBI, Nat finds intriguing references both to Wolfe's activities in an Allied intelligence office in Switzerland during the war, and to a mysterious student resistance group in Berlin known as the White Rose. Following Wolfe's cryptic clues to Europe, soon Nat is in a desperate race to unlock the truth, before it gets him killed.
Freeman Lockhart is working for his old friend Omar in Amman, Jordan. And spying on him too. Hoping to prevent his own secrets from ever coming to light, Freeman has agreed to report back on his friend to a clandestine agency interested in Omar's finances. In Washington DC, meanwhile, Aliyah Rahim is spying on her husband Abbas. A brilliant doctor, Abbas is crushed by the death of their daughter, which he blames on the post-9/11 mood of hostility towards Arab-Americans, and Aliyah fears he may be planning a terrifying act of revenge. Freeman and Aliyah are pitched into the same deadly game, in which the only rules are violence and deceit.
Revere Falk is an FBI interrogator who believes it is possible to get more from a terrorist suspect by treating him decently than by using more 'robust' methods. He lives his life by a certain code of honour. This puts him in a minority at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So when the body of a US soldier is found under mysterious circumstances on the beach, and a high-ranking investigative team is flown in, Falk should be above suspicion. But Falk has a secret, a secret he had hoped was dead and buried. Now, it is reaching out from his past, to the sodium-lit cell blocks and stifling humidity of this claustrophobic rumour-mill of a community, and its implications are greater than he could ever have imagined. Dan Fesperman is already the winner of the CWA John Creasey and the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger awards. This, his fourth book, will surely be hailed as his best yet.
Skelly - a burned-out American foreign correspondent - is back on the beat. Post 9/11, trailing another messy divorce and too many children, he's been dropped into the smoky chaos of Peshawar after scarcely as much preparation as one might make for a weekend at the beach. And, as Skelly soon discovers, this posting is going to be no picnic. To survive the inflamed passions of Peshawar's swirling humanity he will need a 'fixer': a local man who knows the area and speaks English, a nimble, well-connected jack of all trades who can save his skin yet take him where the action is. And for every journalist in Peshawar, the real action is across the border in Afghanistan, where AlQaeda lurk and armed Taliban fighters still cling to power in their mountain strongholds. Skelly chooses Najeeb, the banished son of a tribal warlord. Soon they are driving dusty roads west in the shadowy wake of ex-Mujahedeen Mahmood Razaq, who, armed with dubious assurances of American backing, hopes to stake his claim as leader of the next regime. Skelly's quest for the scoop of a lifetime is no less grandiose. He is determined to track down the charismatic man the whole world is seeking. But it is Najeeb, torn by his own divided loyalties, who must find the way for both of them, in a land where a single misstep - and a single lapse of trust - can prove fatal.
Vlado Petric, former detective in war-torn Sarajevo, has left his beloved homeland to join his wife and daughter in Germany, where he scratches a meagre living among the dust of former conflicts on the building sites of the new Berlin. Returning home one evening, he finds an enigmatic American investigator waiting for him in the small apartment he now shares with his wife and daughter. The investigator, Calvin Pine, works for the International War Crimes Tribunal, and he tells Petric that they want him to go to The Hague. It doesn't take Petric long to accept, especially when Pine tells him they are after a big fish: one of the men who they think is responsible for the terrible massacre of Srebrenica. What Petric doesn't know is that he is also being used as bait to lure into the open a murderer from the previous generation; a man whose activities in the Second World War makes the current generation of killers look like amateurs. As Petric travels from modern-day Germany, through the ruins of Bosnia, to the peaceful hills of southern Italy where bitter, unresolved tensions still crackle beneath the surface, the stakes become all too personal. And he soon finds that investigating the mysteries of the past can be every bit as dangerous as finding his way through the war zones of the present.
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