The Following review was contributed by: John Walsh
Alexandra Miletic leads a tempestuous life as a journalist in Florida, frustrated by her inability to break in to the big time and unsure whether her loving but slightly dull sports reporter boyfriend is really her future. She knows little of her heritage as the child of a mixed Croatian-Serbian marriage and the main legacy she has is a partiality for slivovitz, cigarettes and passionate arguments. However, covering what threatened to be a deadly dull residents’ meeting very soon leads her, via a vicious bomb attack, into a world of Serbian death gangs, Nazi refugees and the FBI. Her subsequent adventures enable her to become much better acquainted with her own background, although she has little chance to appreciate that at the time.
Sons of the Black Hand is the first novel by Carolyn Kvajic and it reads as if there are more than one autobiographical features. It also has a mission to explain at least some of the complexities of the wars in the Balkans which erupted again in the 1990s and led to numerous atrocities and widespread misery. It would of course be impossible to explain all the complexities of the politics and conflicts of that region within a book ten times the length of this one. However, Kvajic does a nice job in painting some of the human relationships which are often forgotten amid the trumpets and alarums of war. She has also created a sexy and interesting heroine whom she herself does not pretend fully to understand. I would be interested in reading more of her adventures should she ever return to the page.
Readers looking for a thrilling adventure with an interesting background would do far worse than consider this exciting new novel. There is scarcely a false note in the two hundred pages and plenty of information about Croatian life and culture to stimulate further exploration. Recommended.
John Walsh, Shinawatra International University, September 2004