AT FIRST, THE pivot of this short, bare novel seems to be an obsessive desire for revenge. But its protagonist, a veteran journalist, eventually decides that what motivates him is something far more complex. What Charlie Johnson is pursuing is ‘Not vengeance, just a reckoning’. He wants his intended murder victim, a Serbian colonel, to understand ‘what it actually really means to snuff someone else out’. Johnson himself also wishes to acquire this understanding – ‘so that the distinctions, the clarity, that life requires would be restored’.