Thursday, February 11, 2010

THE HONEY LOCUST by Jeffrey Round (2009)

Photojournalist Angela Thomas and videographer Andre Riel meet in the former Yugoslavia in 1995, chronicling the horrific civil war between the Croats and Serbs which they file for a Canadian daily newspaper. They are both committed to telling truthful stories, no matter how upsetting, and are driven to exposing the awful reality of ordinary people under siege. For a time, their flak jackets and UN affiliation manage to protect them from physical harm, but that good luck cannot endure.

The backstory involves Angela's complicated relationship with her mother and is as satisfying to witness unravel as the main plot on the war front. I especially liked the way that Round re-imagines an alternate ending from Angela's perspective, a notion that is used as a motif beginning with the moment that Andre manages to get Angela's Leica back from an army guard by offering him a pack of cigarettes wrapped in a little cash.

This is a literary novel that is a real departure from Round's previous books, campy mysteries featuring Bradford Fairfax.