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Thomas De Angelo
Missing Pieces: A Novel of the Balkans
Missing Pieces is a suspense novel set in 1998 Croatia. At its core it is a story of survival, reminiscent of the novels of Eric Ambler and John Buchan where the protagonist, who appears at first to be relatively ordinary, is drawn into a mystery she/he only barely comprehends. The amateur, thrown into the right circumstances, can react with imagination and courage in equal measure, to beat the professionals at their own game.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot: This is a well-developed, well-thought out plot played out in a place with which most Americans will be unfamiliar. The author's research and expertise on the topic is admirable. The main issue is that the plot is based on the implausible premise that David had given a job so dangerous, with people's lives at stake, to a fall-down, black-out plagued alcoholic. That she manages to go from being a late-stage alcoholic to his avenger is also a big stretch, but the book’s exciting pace will keep readers invested.

Prose/Style: The author is a gifted writer, with a clear talent for rendering action sequences, dialogue, and description. The story unfolds at a steady pace, holding the reader's interest, and the author's storytelling abilities are top-notch.

Originality: The author does a superb job creating a unique scenario in a creative and captivating way.

Character Development: The central characters to the story are finely developed and generally distinct. The reader sees the progression in Gloria in her struggles, and her motivations remain clear.

Date Submitted: August 25, 2019


Missing Pieces by Thomas De Angelo will draw you in immediately. The novel is set in the Balkans of 1998 where the repercussions of the Balkans War are still being felt. The protagonist, Gloria Wren, is flawed and not the typical hero you find in this type of novel, but her vulnerability works so well. An anthropologist, she is preparing to assist her investigative journalist fiancé by going undercover at the Croatian Red Cross to investigate thefts of medical supplies.

When David is suddenly found dead,Gloria believes he was murdered. Her investigations uncover much more than she ever imagined; not only stolen medicines but a terrorist network responsible for the ethnic cleansing of people during the Bosnian War. As Gloria battles her own personal demons she soon becomes the hunted.

There is an interesting mix of characters especially Gerard Malet and Zarko Zvonimir, whose sinister and deadly personalities are subtle yet powerful. The plot is superbly created, with many twists and turns that keep you guessing who can be trusted as any of the characters could be implicated in David's murder.

Missing Pieces takes the reader on a rollercoaster of suspense and tension that keeps you completely engaged until the explosive end. The references to historical events and the background to the genocide of Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian conflict were so interesting. The references also to places and architecture made the storyline even more realistic and believable. This novel is a fantastic tribute to those unsung, and often innocent,victims of war. As Gloria concludes: 'Throughout history, people in upheaval have clung to their values in order to give a reality to their lives. Here in the Balkans, even their values have been trodden on.' - Lesley Jones, book reviewer, for READERS' FAVORITE REVIEW

2019 BookLife Prize

Thomas De Angelo's novel Missing Pieces: a novel of the Balkans is a semi-finalist in the 2019 Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize for fiction in the mystery/thriller category..