Having just returned from east Africa myself I was drawn to this book’s setting in Ethiopia. I was particularly interested in the historical backdrop of the deterioration Haile Selassie’s rule and the impact on the people of Ethiopia as they were plunged deeper and deeper into poverty and political instability. The fact that John Coyne was in Ethiopia as a Peace Corps Volunteer I knew would give the book authenticity of the place and historical context. The book certainly delivers as a record of that time in the chapters written from the voice of a third person narrator.
But it is the juxtaposition of this broad landscape and history with the very intimate landscape and history of Parker Bishop told in his own voice that makes this book a gem. The smallness of his Westchester, New York village, the one-on-one conversations at the local bar, and reminiscences of lost loves, both due to tragic deaths, crystallize into a delicate place of passion. It is truly the contrast of these two places, one long ago and far away and one so painfully close to the home and to the heart of one man that engaged me.
The mystery of the story threads through both places, as well as the Spanish island of Menorca, Washington, DC and the mid west. If you were to read this book exclusively as an international murder mystery you would not be disappointed. But as you travel from continent to continent, you will also find yourself taking a journey into the workings of the human heart on which John Coyne is a skillful and sensitive guide.
Karel R. Amaranth, MPH, MA