From Publishers Weekly
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A debut novel set in Kosovo in the 1990s, from seasoned war correspondent Fleishman. Narrator Jay Morgan is a grizzled war reporter who in his career has seen enough violence--including the death of his photographer wife--to make him disillusioned and cynical. In Kosovo he becomes embroiled in the ferocity of ethnic hostilities ("Yugoslavia's unfinished chapter") between the Serbs and the Albanians. He links up with Alija, a beautiful young translator who's looking for her brother Ardian, a university student who disappeared months before. One of the first images of the novel sets the grim tone: Jay and Alija checking mass graves to see whether Ardian is among the victims. Both of them move uneasily among the brutal and brutish Serbs, especially the MUP, the Serb interior police. The MUP control the checkpoints and inflict daily violence on the towns and villages. The rebels, in contrast, occupy the mountains and use guerrilla tactics to destroy Serb soldiers and Jeeps before melting back into their hiding place. Jay has heard rumors of a mysterious, charismatic Muslim leader now living among the rebels and training them in tactics that include suicide bombing--or glorious martyrdom, depending on whose side the description is emanating from. (The "promised virgins" of the title refers to the ultimate reward of those willing to sacrifice themselves.) After much searching, and with help from those sympathetic to the rebel cause, Jay succeeds in having a brief and enigmatic interview with the shadowy figure known as Abu Musab. Jay has found out--though he keeps his knowledge from Alija--that among those Abu Musab is training in suicide tactics is Ardian. Fleishman, who is currently serving as the Cairo bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, writes in a telegraphic, staccato style, reminiscent of Hemingway and well suited to the stark realities he depicts. A harsh, impressive work. First printing of 12,500. Agent: Sorche Fairbank/Fairbank Literary Representation --Kirkus Reviews