Yugoslavia, 1991. The State is crumbling, and in the midst of the political chaos secret policeman Marko della Torre has been working both sides of the law — but somewhere along the way he's crossed the line. When a corrupt cop called Strumbić helps three hired Bosnian thugs to hunt him down and kill him, della Torre makes a run for it through Croatia, Italy, and finally to London, where he’ll take Strumbić for all he's worth.
A page-turning thriller shot through with black humour and razor-sharp dialogue, Zagreb Cowboy is the spectacular debut novel in a taut new crime fiction series.
Mattich's marvelous neo-noir debut begins in 1991. Balkan war is in the air, the weather is grim, and Marko Della Torre is in the backseat of a Mercedes saloon, sandwiched between Elvis-lookalike Bosnian hit men, on his way to a shallow grave. Marko is an anticorruption officer with Yugoslavia's much-feared secret police, but he isn't above making some cash on the side selling files to Strumbic, a crooked cop. After escaping the Bosnian hoods, Marko realizes Strumbic set him up. Now wanted for crimes against the state, he goes on the run across Croatia and Slovenia, through Italy to London, following the dirty money Strumbic stashed and trying to unravel why Strumbic, the Bosnians, and a mysterious old-guard Communist all want him dead. Morals are murky and loyalties confusing, and Mattich gives the novel a nihilistic yet sprightly sardonic tone. He includes some terrifically funny hard-boiled dialogue, a nice backdrop of Balkan politics, and a few wonderful secondary characters, such as Marko's lovably forlorn boss, Anzulovic, who's giving chase while still hoping that Marko is innocent. The action loses a bit of steam once the story moves to London but promisingly opens the door for a follow-up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Set in the gritty backdrop of Pre-war Yugoslavia, the author created a host of simple, believable characters moving through an interesting, page turning story. I quite liked it. The good guys are imperfect. The bad guys are well drawn in manner and actions. The dialogue is exactly how you would imagine these characters would speak in improbable situations made real by the talents of this new author. I devoured the story.
The characters are introduced and developed well. The ironic humour that they all display was appealing.
The author's abIlity to describe the settings is very well done making it easy to visualize how things appear without spending excessive time to describe the scene.
Only criticism is that the wrapping up lacked some details but, as there are other books in the series, I would assume that they are explored later.
Overall, a well-written,engaging and entertaining book. I look forward to reading the next in the series.
First book I've read by this Author. Excellent book, good plot, exciting and well written. I would highly recommend.