Five years after the war, former Sarajevo detective Vlado Petric has escaped from his war-ravaged homeland to Berlin, where he tries to rebuild his life. But as the novel opens, he’s given the chance to right the wrongs of his country’s past. Recruited by Calvin Pine, an American investigator with the war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Vlado is charged with hunting down Petro Matek, a murderer whose crimes date back to the flagging days of World War II. As Vlado closes in on his target, he discovers that his role in the investigation is that of bait instead of detective. The deeper Vlado gets involved in the case, the closer his personal ties with Matek become, until he realizes that Matek’s actions are linked with those of his own father’s. Fesperman’s prose is haunting and precise, sweeping the reader through a story filled with twists and turns.
Visionaries have appeared throughout the history of Christianity. Most are heralded and sainted, their bones dedicated in the vaults of cathedrals throughout Europe. But what would happen if a visionary appeared today? David Guterson’s new novel “Our Lady of the Forest” (Knopf, $25.95), poses this question not only as a fictional story but as an open-ended contemplation on religious faith. Ann Holmes, a teenage runaway and itinerate mushroom picker, has a vision of the Virgin Mary in the woods of North Fork, Wash. News of her sightings quickly spreads through the community, prompting a mass pilgrimage that brings thousands of believers to the town. Father Collins, a young priest new to North Fork, is charged with investigating the credibility of Ann’s sightings. Were they just the delusions of a drug user or were they real? This question becomes the driving force behind all of Guterson’s characters. From Tom Cross, an out-of-work logger consumed with bitterness and regret, to Carolyn Greer, Ann’s cynical friend who uses Ann’s new-found popularity for her own financial gain, the characters who fill the pages of Guterson’s book tell a story of S
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