In Vienna, a taxi meets with an accident. The two passengers – a man and a woman – die soon after. When the taxi driver regains consciousness, all he can say is that he can remember them going in for a kiss.

It turns out that they are both Albanians – named Besfort Y and Rovena – who have been having an affair for a long time, meeting in hotels all over central Europe. The Serbian government and Albanian secret service gets involved in the investigation of the deaths, because Besfort was possibly involved in the bombing of Yugoslavia during the Balkan War.

But their investigations don’t go too far, and a character called “the researcher” steps in to puzzle out what could have caused the deaths. What follows is an obsessive documentation of the affair, intertwined with the ups and downs of Balkan politics.

Written by the Man Booker International Prize winning novelist Ismail Kadare, the novel has been translated by John Hodgson.

“To reveal that the mystery is never fully resolved does not ruin the story, but underlines what this book isn’t: a conventional whodunit. Instead, it’s a provocative exploration of the sinister underside of human relations,” says a Guardian review of the novel.

Published in 2008. Translated from the French by John Hodgson in 2010.