Dubrovnik in the Yugoslav Civil War

In 1991 Croatia was attempting to secede from the Yugoslav confederation and gain independence. Croatia is an unusual-shaped country. The bulk of its land mass is in the north of Yugoslavia but it also has a long narrow coastal strip running down a large part of the eastern side of the Adriatic including the coastal islands. At the southern end of this strip, and cut off from the rest of Croatia by the short length of the Bosnian coastline, there is the World Heritage City of Dubrovnik and its environs.

In the autumn of that year the area was besieged by the Serb-led JNA (Jugoslav National Army) and a Serb-crewed frigate was patrolling the coast. JNA guns were trained on the international airport and Dubrovnik was effectively cut off from the outside world. The international community was doing plenty of talking and the American sixth fleet was patrolling the southern end of the Adriatic, but they were refusing to take military action at that stage to try to resolve any of Yugoslavia’s problems, It was this inaction that was a partial cause of the tragedies which were to blight that unfortunate country in the following years.

Montenegro had long laid claim to this southern outpost of Croatia. However nobody could believe that the Serbs and Montenegrins would actually open fire on the beautiful old city which had no effective defences against modern high velocity guns and where the Croatian defenders numbered less than 1500 men with few effective weapons. On the other side the JNA had nearly 20,000 troops with modern tanks and artillery.

This is the historical setting for my latest novel called Dancing with Spies. My heroine finds herself trapped in the old city and gets caught up in the underground tangle of complex machinations between Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins and the other races who are trying to gain the upper hand in the escalating struggle.

Caroline Daley is an ordinary everyday woman who is escaping from a disastrous marriage in the English Cotswolds.  The siege puts her in danger and forces her to fight for her survival and the causes she believes in. It also leads to unexpected love, self-discovery and fulfilment of her desires by the time the conclusion of the story is reached.

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