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Thomas Ryan opens A Field of Blackbirds with a captivating scene wherein Arben Shala finds he must get out of Kosovo—and quickly. There to check on a vineyard his family has long owned for his employer, Jeff Bradley, a New Zealand vineyard owner, Shala is caught in a web of governmental deceit and corruption. Bradley leaves his home, promising Shala’s wife that he will find Arben and bring him home. Once in Kosovo, he meets up with Sulla, his driver, Morgan Delaney, an American who assists him in identifying the local crooks who plan to steal Shala’s land, and others connected with local law enforcement and the UN. Meanwhile, Lee Caldwell (is he CIA, or?) tracks terrorists from country to country, finally landing in Kosovo. Together, Bradley and Caldwell lead their friends and cohorts to solve the mysteries of who is trying to steal Shala’s land, what government official is behind the corruption, what interest do international terrorists have in Kosovo, and what exactly happened to Shala?
In A field of Blackbirds, Thomas Ryan takes readers to a land where bureaucratic corruption is the rule and honesty the exception. Readers witness first-hand, what comes of a people when its government can be bought and sold through illegal shenanigans. It is a healthy reminder that “character” matters, that we should require honesty as a key trait in those who govern, and of what transpires when principles of honesty and holding no man above the law, are not followed. I particularly enjoyed visiting the land of Kosovo, one long held in the grips of war. Thomas Ryan reminds readers that without guiding principles, moving from poverty to plenty, from shackles to freedom, is a difficult if not impossible task.
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