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Even ruthless despots get sick from time to time. But they can generally afford to pay for expert treatment. It’s the sort of work that commands a premium fee. Especially if the despot’s life is on the line.
Tending to the medical needs of bloodthirsty dictators might be considered morally questionable by some, but that’s not really what this book is about. I’m more interested in the consequences for the doctor of saving the life of someone who goes on to take thousands of lives in a war of aggression. A lot of people might blame him for keeping their oppressor alive. And the oppressor, if ever brought to justice by the International Court, might have the power to do much worse than simply embarrass his saviour.
I followed the strands of this story into the dramatic and troubling history of the former Yugoslavia, discovering in the process just how socially and personally traumatic the Milosevic era was for the Serbs – and the Croats, the Bosnians and the Kosovars – of his generation. I also discovered what a bleak place Belgrade can be in February, but how warm and welcoming the average Serb is.
Sitting in on the trials going on (and still going on as I write) at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, I was struck by the paltriness of the attendance by members of the public. We should know about the crimes against humanity being examined there and if this novel draws anyone’s attention to a conflict many of us have gone a long way towards forgetting, I’ll be glad.
Forgetting is what my central character, Dr Edward Hammond, thinks he is safe in doing. But he realizes, in the course of the story, that trying to forget what he’s done is actually his biggest mistake.
Read Blood Count to find out if he’s able to put that mistake right.
There’s no such thing as easy money. As surgeon Edward Hammond is about to find out. Thirteen years ago he performed a life saving operation on a Serbian gangster, Dragan Gazi. Gazi is now standing trial for war crimes in the international court in The Hague. After his life was saved, his men went on to slaughter thousands in the Balkan civil wars.
Now Gazi’s family want more from him: in exchange for keeping Hammond’s dirty little secret, they want him to find for them the man who holds the key to all the money Gazi squirreled away before he was locked up...