The Balkans. 1990’s. Civil War. Revenge vs. Forgiveness.
Doctor Zhivago meets Gone With the Wind. How does love factor into a ferocious time of vengeful spite. An innocent mountain village is ripped apart by fractious, centuries-old hatred. When a key player flees to New York City for respite, how does a victim become a predator?
The Village. A beautiful, fiery young widow, Yelena, flees her mountain village in Kosovo, Serbia, after her young son has been brutally slaughtered in the ongoing civil strife there. Always having been good friends with her Muslim neighbors, she is shocked by the prevailing opinion that the crime was done in the spirit of jihad. The police failure to round up a single suspect infuriates her, but she refuses to believe the rumblings of the Christian/Muslim divisiveness in her homeland. It becomes unbearable for her to stay there, and in her desperate feeling of futility and fury, she seeks refuge in New York with her sister and her sister’s American husband and children.
The City. Yelena arrives in Queens, New York, in her sister’s three room apartment, in the hope of healing her wrenching grief. While there, she gets a job as a cleaning lady on the graveyard shift in a news office, where she meets Jake, a handsome, charming, though bitterly divorced American journalist, who is down on his luck. He keeps late hours in the news office where Yelena cleans. He’s restless, she’s lost. Two searching souls, different cultures, different languages, different codes of honor, find themselves in an unintended tryst. He researches the Balkans, while she studies the rules of baseball, and it looks like two diverse paths could become one until she stumbles upon some clippings Jake has been collecting from innumerable sources about the Balkans in an effort to understand his new found beloved. One clipping reveals the identity of the man who killed her son. It’s written in Serbian and Jake couldn’t read it, so didn’t know what it would do to Yelena. She reels at the realization the suspect is the husband of her best friend and neighbor, a Muslim. Yelena shows the teeth of a mother tiger. Jake no longer knows who she is when she states she’s going back home for justice. They fight it out like arch enemies. Their values couldn’t be more divergent. He fails to keep her from what she calls her duty. A chasm forms between them. She leaves him, carrying his child in her womb.
The Return. Back in the village, Yelena, six months pregnant, draws disdain, judgment and gossip. Her relatives want to know why she came. For justice, she says. Her wise old Aunt Sofia who raised her, asks if she’s sure it’s not for revenge.
Yelena decides to take the law into her own hands in order to accomplish the vengeance she cannot accomplish through the courts. She’s playing by medieval rules now, and she knows it. The unexpected, unpredictable and yet somehow inevitable unfolding of events has the reader breathless with surprise as each action brings us to a startling, unforeseeable and thrilling conclusion.