Sgt Dean Samson and his team of British soldiers are well aware of the dangers they’ll face and the things they’ll see in a country that has suffered years of oppression and ethnic cleansing. But nothing could have prepared them for Aždaja, a sadistic, mythical, serial killer with a penchant for vile humiliation and unimaginable torture.
Since leaving the Army, Samson now a Police Officer, has struggled to erase his darkest memories of Kosovo. When he receives a devastating medical diagnosis, his nightmares come flooding to the surface, forcing him to face up to what he did….and what he didn’t do. With nothing to lose and no one to stop him, he’s at a crossroads. But is he prepared for what lies in wait? Will the horrors of Kosovo return with a vengeance?
Well this was a pleasant surprise.
I picked this book up cheaply on Amazon and in truth wasn’t really too sure what to expect. Lines of Justice: Azdaja didn’t have too many reviews on either Amazon or Goodreads but the ones that were there were almost universally positive. I’m very pleased to say that I agree with them.
We follow the main character, Sgt Dean Samson, initially during his time in war torn Kosovo, and then, many years later, back in the UK where he now serves as a Police Officer. Samson is, despite a number of questionable actions throughout, a very likeable character. The author is able to infuse a great deal of humour into the book through Samson and I was thankful for that as a result of the book being very dark in places.
On that, I really should point out that this book is gruesome in places, with graphic depictions of torture and various other injuries. The aforementioned humour helps from keeping it from tipping over the edge though and the worst of it – in my eyes at least – was very early on, so if you can get past the scenes set in Kosovo early in the book then it doesn’t get bleaker than that.
The plot flows really well and zips along at good pace and there was no point that I was pulled out of the narrative to question the decisions of a character – something I find myself doing more and more these days.
I genuinely only had two very slight issues with this one. The first being that I felt the Samson’s flip to vigilantism may have been just a touch on the abrupt side – although the character does have that military history and was clearly portrayed as a man of action.
The second being I actually wanted the book to go on longer. I was so enjoying the build up to the final confrontation that I could have definitely gone with a more protracted chase between Samson and the antagonist.
Overall, this has taken over as my best surprise read of 2017 and I would absolutely recommend to anyone that enjoys books in the style of Conrad Jones or even the early Jack Reacher novels.
The Beer Accompaniment:
With a book this dark there are two ways I was tempted to go. The first was to steer into the bend and go for something like a Dark Island by Orkney Brewing but due to the level of humour that is sprinkled through the book this felt perhaps a little flat and that something like a Erdinger Dunkel or Beavertown’s Black Betty Black IPA would be better. There are a number of eastern european black lagers that I would have been interested to try but unfortunately, I was too caught up in reading the book to wait until I could get my hands on them.
In the end though I went with undercutting some of the bleak scenes with an American Style IPA. Hawkshead IPA from the brewery of the same name. Scents of Mango and other tropical fruit without much in the way of bitterness. It is 7%, but then it is, or at least feels like, a short book.