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Blood Price

Blood Price

4.0 1
by Jon Evans

Paul Wood and his girlfriend, Talena, were just tourists in Sarajevo, a city still reeling from the aftermath of civil war. But an unexpected encounter makes them a desperate woman's only hope of escape. Now, to get her to safety, they must navigate through the minefield of warlords, criminals, and peacekeepers that is postwar Bosnia.

Pursued by brutal gangsters


Paul Wood and his girlfriend, Talena, were just tourists in Sarajevo, a city still reeling from the aftermath of civil war. But an unexpected encounter makes them a desperate woman's only hope of escape. Now, to get her to safety, they must navigate through the minefield of warlords, criminals, and peacekeepers that is postwar Bosnia.

Pursued by brutal gangsters and unable to leave the country legally, Paul agrees to do a job for a shadowy group of people smugglers in exchange for safe passage. The smugglers seem friendly. The job seems harmless. But when he discovers the secrets seething beneath, the repercussions will propel him on a perilous journey around the world — from a warlord's compound in lawless Albania, through the jungles of Latin America, and toward an explosive confrontation at the extraordinary Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
In The Blood Price, a sequel of sorts to Jon Evans's award-winning debut novel, Dark Places, continent-hopping backpacker and wanderlust-afflicted computer programmer Balthazar "Paul" Wood breaks the Prime Directive of trekking: Don't get involved.

The action begins in Sarajevo (still devastated by the effects of the civil war eight years earlier), where Paul and his Croatian-born girlfriend are visiting her sister. Paul soon gets involved in an illegal and perilous plot to get the sister out of the country and away from her psychotic gangster boyfriend, who happens to be the leader of a vicious local paramilitary group. In his desperate rush to elude this sadistic pack of wolves, Paul takes refuge in a dragon's cave by making a deal with a criminal overlord and "self-deluded dot-com CEO" who specializes in refugee smuggling. The agreement is simple: For safe passage to America, Paul must help design a secure web site that will exponentially expand the smuggler's many burgeoning criminal interests. But when Paul realizes just how unconscionably evil his temporary employer is, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

From war-torn Bosnia to the tropic paradise of Belize to the Nevada desert during the Burning Man festivities, Evans moves this action-packed thriller along at breakneck pace until its highly explosive conclusion. Fans of recent down-and-dirty thrillers like Charlie Huston's Henry "Hank" Thompson novels (Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things) and Will Staeger's Painkiller will thoroughly enjoy this comparable rip-roaring adventure. Paul Goat Allen

Richard Lipez
Despite its sometimes disconcerting insouciance, The Blood Price is knowledgeable about Balkan history, the current fragile peace maintained by NATO and the multi-billion-dollar international refugee-smuggling industry. Evans can write, too, when he isn't trying to be Bruce Willis.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Albanian smugglers, Bosnian guerrillas and Central American drug dealers populate Evans's colorful transcontinental story of self-preservation and harebrained derring-do (after Dark Places), starring Paul Wood, an unemployed 29-year-old computer programmer. Paul, a Canadian living in San Francisco, and his beautiful Croatian-born girlfriend, Talena, attempt to save their fraying relationship with a trip to Sarajevo. (The year is 2003.) There, Paul morphs into an inadvertent action-hero when he rescues a South Asian boy and returns him to his family. In the process, Paul encounters Sinisa, the ruthless head of a multimillion-dollar people-smuggling ring, whom he turns to again when Talena's childhood friend Saskia needs his help getting to America. But there's a catch: Wood must design a "hacker tracker" program for the deranged smuggler in exchange for Saskia's freedom. From Albania, where Paul works around the clock to complete the program, he, Talena and Saskia find their way home via Belize and Mexico (Sinisa embroils them in drug smuggling, too). Fast-forward three months, when Paul and his friends hunt down Sinisa and his goons at the Burning Man art festival in Nevada. Death and destruction ensue, of course, topping off this highly readable, inventive thriller,. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
So-so thriller from Evans (Dark Places, 2004) about what happens when a brave backpacker goes up against a master criminal. Balthazar Paul Wood is not your average backpacker. For one thing, there aren't a lot of backpackers checking out tourist attractions in Bosnia, still war-torn eight years after the end of hostilities. Paul, as he is usually called, is there because of his girlfriend Talena, who's there because of her sister Saskia, who's there because she can't elude Dragan, her husband, who beats her regularly and guards her closely. Talena, Bosnian by birth, American by attitude, refuses to believe in problems without solutions. In this case she's right, but the one that turns up entails the services of a sinister piece of work named Sinise Obradovic, a drug dealer and refugee smuggler. His help won't come cheap, Paul soon learns. Nor will it involve money. Without question, Sinise can get Saskia safely away from her fire-eating Dragan, he swears, but in return he wants ace computer programmer Paul to participate in the building of Mycroft-the endlessly sophisticated, totally bug-free website he needs in order to increase the efficiency of his nefarious profit centers. Paul, seeing no other course, accepts. What makes it a tad easier is that, despite his better judgment, he has a sort of sneaking affection for Sinise-until, quite by accident, he discovers that beneath the plausible exterior lurk the proclivities of a mass-murderer. And though Sinise is drawn to Paul as well, it's frighteningly clear that his finger is never far from the trigger. The characters are likable but the story too often morphs into a travelogue.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.97(d)

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Read an Excerpt

The Blood Price

By Jonathan Evans

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Jonathan Evans
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060782366

Chapter One

The Child

The taxi arrived at exactly the wrong time. Ten seconds earlier and I wouldn't have seen the child at all. Ten seconds later and it would have been too late to help him. I would have moved on, uninvolved, and I cannot even imagine how different the rest of my life might have been.

When I encountered the little boy, it was two in the morning and I was somewhere in the back streets of Sarajevo, completely lost, muttering incoherent fury at my absent girlfriend. My soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend. I was just drunk enough to admit that to myself for the first time. We were finished, Talena and I, our two-year relationship had frayed beyond repair. This vacation, our last, desperate throw of the dice, had come up snake eyes. She would dump me as soon as we got back to California, and I couldn't blame her. I would have dumped me a long time ago.

We had been at a party, a reunion hosted by friends Talena had not seen in eight years, held in a lushly decorated apartment, elegant furniture and tasteful paintings and acid jazz on the turntables, American cigarettes and French wine, lean and beautiful people, everyone but Talena and me decked out in designer clothes. Only the groaning plumbing and low, cracked ceiling hinted that we were in a dazed and shambling nation still trying to recover from the most vicious civil war in all the bloody history of Europe. Talena's friends were very good at keeping up the facade of urbane, cosmopolitan high life. For some of them I think it was all they had.

Everyone but me was Bosnian, though many spoke good English, and I knew no one but Talena, who was absorbed with her long-distance friends. I felt excluded. I drank too much slivovitz, Bosnia's lethal plum brandy. I told Talena I was leaving. She accused me of avoiding her friends. It had escalated into a bitter fight, as our disagreements so often did these days, and I had turned and stormed into the night, fueled by slivovitz and wounded rage.

Losing myself on the steep slopes of southern Sarajevo shouldn't have been possible. All I needed to do was go downhill until I reached the Miljacka River and then follow it upstream. But in my drunken, emotional haze, I found myself climbing as often as I descended -- somehow the winding streets never went in quite the right direction -- and every time I caught a glimpse of the few dim lights of downtown, they seemed no nearer than before. I was beginning to wonder if I should try to turn back when I turned yet another corner, saw the family in the pickup, and stopped dead with surprise.

The street was typical suburban Sarajevo. A pair of street lamps shed barely enough light to navigate by, but bright light from an open doorway illuminated the street. A pitted and crumbling road, no sidewalk, barely wide enough for two cars, its edges slowly eaten away by a thousand ravenous generations of grass. Little houses of five or six rooms were arrayed on either side, their walls, like the street itself, still pockmarked with bullet scars from the eight-years-ended war. The plots of land between houses contained lawns and vegetable gardens but no trees; the war had swallowed almost all the trees within a mile of Sarajevo, cut down and burnt for warmth. There was a pervasive air of neglect and decay -- peeling paint, a plank fallen from a wooden fence, a cracked window, gardens that were mostly weeds, little clumps of debris -- that the few new or brightly painted houses could not dispel.

A beat-up white Mitsubishi pickup was parked in front of the lit doorway. In the bed of the pickup, a dark-skinned family sat atop a ragged collection of bags and bundles. They were so out of place they startled me out of my self-righteous reverie and nearly into sobriety. Other than a few NATO troops, they were the only nonwhite people I had seen in Bosnia. Two adults, and four children, ranging in age from high single digits to midteens. I guessed they were South Asian, probably Tamil, judging by their features and the darkness of their skin.

Three young white men emerged from the house, all sporting the Menacing Gangsta look, black clothes, shaved heads, tattoos, alpha-male attitude. They approached the pickup, obviously intending to get in and drive away, and the darkskinned parents, alarmed, started objecting loudly in a strange and sonorous language. The white men hesitated and looked at one another. The driver replied in annoyed Serbo-Croatian. After a brief, confused pause, both groups started speaking at once. It quickly became apparent that neither side understood a word the other was saying.

I didn't know either language, but I understood that the white men insisted on driving off, while the Tamils passionately wanted to stay. The dispute was serious, and exacerbated by the mutual miscommunication, and as I watched the volume and emotion escalated rapidly until both sides were shouting. Everyone was much too engrossed in the argument to notice me.

It took only a minute for matters to come to a boil. One of the white men withdrew keys from his pocket and started toward the driver's seat. The adult Tamils leapt to their feet, howling with anger and dismay, obviously about to step down from the pickup and take their children with them.

Then another white man, short and thickly muscled, drew a gun, a big all-metal handgun that gleamed dully in the light, and the cacophony of angry voices went quiet like somebody had pulled a plug.

The third white man, skinny and tall, followed his companion's lead and drew another, smaller gun. I thought from his body language that he was only reluctantly following along. The hulking, eager gunslinger aimed his weapon at the Tamil father and barked an order, pointing to the bed of the pickup with his free hand. The father looked at his wife and children. . . .


Excerpted from The Blood Price by Jonathan Evans Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Evans.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jon Evans has backpacked through China, Japan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, New Guinea, India, Nepal, the Balkans, and, most recently, Iraq. Between journeys, he has worked for internet and software companies and now divides his time among America, Canada, and Europe.

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