Jay Fromkin's Reviews > The Small Boat of Great Sorrows

The Small Boat of Great Sorrows by Dan Fesperman
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Oct 27, 2011

really liked it
Read from October 27 to November 04, 2011

Dan Fesperman's The Small Boat of Great Sorrows intertwines the horrors of World War II and the Bosnian war in this suspenseful novel of treachery in wartime and its aftermath.

Vlado Petric is an expatriate Bosnian cop, working on an excavation project in Berlin to support his wife and child. Out of nowhere, Petric is approached by an American investigator for the War Crimes Tribunal with a short-term job and a long-term opportunity: help us arrest a Serb war criminal from World War II, which will also help us arrest a Serb war criminal from the Bosnian war. In return, the way will be paved for Petric to return to Bosnia and his law enforcement career. Petric, he is told by the American, is the only one who make this justice possible. Intrigued, and drawn by the possibility of returning his homesick wife to Bosnia, Petric accepts the job. To his surprise and shock, Petric is confronted by ghosts of his family's past, international political intrigue, secrets, lies, and missing gold.

Fesperman, whose novels Layover in Dubai and The Arms Maker of Berlin I enjoyed, has done it again. The characters, both major and minor, are well drawn; the physical settings are evocative; and the plot is involving. Fesperman has demonstrated that the arc of terror can cross generations with extraordinary ease, that even the best governments can employ people of dubious morality, and that dedicated individuals willing to take risks can make critical differences.
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