Tin Sky is the 4th in Ben Pastor’s Martin Bora mystery stories and my first acquaintance with this aristocratic young Abwehr major. I can say at the outset that I look forward to the next in the series, because Tin Sky is a very good read.
The story is set in 1943, in the fictional town of Merefa, in northeastern Ukraine. It begins with the discovery of a decapitated corpse in a nearby ravine: Krasny Yar, a place locals fear and avoid. But this is not Bora’s problem. His assignment in Merefa is counterintelligence. And his two prize prisoners have been murdered while in custody. There is an easy political route he can take to avoid responsibility, or he can hunt the killers down. He chooses the latter.
Pastor does a fine job weaving the web of internecine rivalry, deception, and cruelty of men at war in which Bora must maneuver to track his prey. Her plot is satisfyingly complex, and the hair-raising resolution is worth the 300 pages it takes to get there. The story’s characters, especially Bora himself, are finely drawn.
Tin Sky demands a lot of patience from the reader. Although there are plenty of twists and surprises, this is not a James Patterson or Kathy Reichs adventure mystery. There are beautiful literary passages to savor and opportunities to reflect with Bora in his search for a moral compass in time of war. I don’t think it would be overstating to say that Pastor’s conclusion is worthy of Camus or Beckett. It’s that good.