This is not a courtroom drama, but the International Criminal Court's investigation of a war crime makes Testimony a suspenseful legal thriller. Bill Ten Boom, embarks on a new phase of his career when tasked with investigating an event that occurred ten years previously.
During the turbulent conclusion of the Bosnian war, approximately 400 Roma disappeared from a refugee camp and none have been heard of since. That much is beyond refute, but what happened to these people is still unknown. No mass grave has been found, but friends and family members have not heard from any of the refugees from the camp in the ten years since that April night. The stories about the missing refugees are rife and opinions vary widely.
Afraid of retaliation, the lone survivor of the camp, Ferko Rincic has only recently been persuaded to come forward to give his account. Rincic testifies that he was in an outdoor privy when armed men in masks descended on the camp at midnight, herded the refugees into trucks, disgorged them into a cave, then set off an avalanche burying the refugees alive. In order for the ICC to prosecute the case, however, Ten Boom and his investigator Goos must discover evidence that the event actually happened.
Only when factual evidence of the massacre is discovered, can the investigation move to determining who was responsible.
There are plenty of twists and turns as Ten Boom and Goos plunge into a rabbit hole of partial information, deliberate deception, and inadvertent misconceptions. Bosnia is still a dangerous place in 2015, and as Ten Boom and Goos investigate, their opinions about whom to believe and whom to trust change as the investigation progresses.
(I wish Esme had been omitted from the plot; while she does offer more mystery, she really was not necessary and becomes a sort of side story. Someone else could have been responsible for discovering Ferko Rincic. She is my only quibble about the book--just a personal thing.)
The information about the ICC in the Hague, the way the investigation is carried out, the aftermath of all of the ethnic violence in Bosnia, and the cover-ups -- make fascinating reading. This is another fine example of Turow's work, but it is also another of those uncomfortable novels that make us uneasy. Black and white and shades of gray.
from the Author's Note:
"So how much of this is true? Every novelist wants to answer that question the same way: All of it--and none."Turow says that none of the characters represents "anyone who has lived" and that he altered actual occurrences for dramatic effect, but he does list some of the sources of inspiration, often from Human Rights Watch Reports.
Now, I have to go back and see if my library has copies of some of the books I've missed in the Kindle County series.
Read in February; blog post scheduled for May 1, 2017
NetGalley/Grand Central Publishing
Legal Thriller/Crime. May 16, 2017. Print version: 496 pages.