A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A disappointing read, yet another book dying for an editor to wrap things up more tightly. Not to say that his plot tightness wasn’t there– just too obvious, knowing that Natasha’s souvenir nutcracker was destined to be in Havaa’s suitcase as soon as we got the second and third hint (and more) about the goddamn suitcase containing souvenirs. And only an idiot could write lines like, “A sex worker was one thing, but a weekend hiker?” as Natasha reaches the border attempting to escape Chechnya and is shocked to find that she must hike up a mountain (but becoming a prostitute, No Big Deal). Eyeroll.
Plotwise– Sonja’s the kickass surgeon who comes back from London to find her sister after the first Chechnyan war, takes over the local hospital and blearily takes in Akhmed (incompetent doctor and decent portraitist) and Havaa (young daughter of abducted and fingerless Dokka). Natasha is Sonja’s missing sister, we find blown to bits when attempting to shoot a Federal soldier who attacked her.
Graphic, gratuitously disturbing descriptions of torture, amputations, war. Dumb title. Long winded ending that hilariously, is redeemed (unintentionally) by the next page’s Author Note, stating in clipped, nasally voice, “In writing this novel I drew from the following sources.” A book about Chechnya written by a white American dude? Avoid.