Top critical review
Fails to ignite my blue touch paper
on 4 October 2009
Fullerton's thriller takes us to the theatre of war in Sarajevo, bombarded daily and nightly by the Serbs. The people of Sarajevo include Bosnians, Bosnian Serbs, Croatians and Moslems (as they are called throughout this book). People are starving, people are dying. Rosso is a Superintendent of police and, it seems, one of a small band of cops still operating in amongst the battered and beleaguered populace of this once beautiful city.
A Moslem officer passes Rosso a screwed-up piece of paper giving bare details of a corpse to be found in a block of flats, known locally as The Monkey House. It is known that the block houses a large number of Serbs and it is noted that this block amongst all its neighbours remains largely intact under the bombardment. The corpse turns out to be a female dentist, but before he can recover the body, Rosso has to get past the militia of a local crime-lord who are not allowing anyone inside. By the time he does get in, the body has gone, but one crucial witness to the murder remains.
The writing style is terse, direct, factual, the characterisation minimalistic and tending towards the clichéd. There's an unprepossessing villain, an alcoholic wife, a good-time girl, a crazy American journalist, etc. It is quite cinematic and fleshed out by good actors this might make an exciting movie. Judging the book, however, I was disappointed. The things that make a thriller thrilling are all there, but somehow they fail to ignite beyond the fizzing blue touch-paper of the setting.