this extract taken from the prologue of The Knives. It finds the protagonist David Blaylock circa 1993 as a young platoon commander in the British Army's share of support for the UN peacekeeping effort - or 'Protection Force'/UNPROFOR - during the Bosnian War.
If your subject is moral quagmires in politics, and mine surely was, then this was an obvious place in our recent European history at which to begin. How was anyone meant to keep peace in Bosnia in 1993 while the territory was being assailed under a preconceived agreement between the assailants (and supposed rivals), Tudjman's Croatia and Milosevic's Serbia, against whom UNPROFOR were not permitted to raise a hand in reproach?
It was hardly surprising that the Muslim population of Bosnia felt a dire need for military assistance in the shape of 'irregulars' - though the shape these volunteer fighters took, as dramatised in the extract, had a grim aspect all of its own.