We Were Beautiful Once
a small town lawyer ventures into a web of betrayal, murder and corruption in this legal-suspense thriller to solve the mysterious disappearance of a POW during the Korean War. Using the courtroom juxtaposed to the battlefield, Carvalko methodically takes us through how a soldier MIA behind enemy lines has a profound effect on the lives of those left behind. Out of two rooms over Zorba’s Luncheonette, Nick runs what the local white-shoe firms call a one-lung law practice. On behalf of the family searching for their brother, Nick sues the U.S. Army to uncover the truth behind Pvt. Roger Girardin’s whereabouts, following the end of hostilities. The trial causes three individuals, who knew Girardin, to confront the fears and animosities that have kept them fixed to a past that began before the war and continued afterward in the wake of the soldier’s disappearance. One man, ex-POW Jack O’Connor, kept secret what he knew about Girardin’s captivity to protect his sister Julie, who was also Girardins sweetheart. Suffering from PTSD O’Connor becomes increasingly unhinged under the obsession that he may have played a key role in the missing man’s failure to be repatriated. Trent Hamilton, a friend of O’Connor before the war, was an intelligence officer during the war and also may have played a part in Girardin mysteriously vanishing. Nick’s attempt to solve the mystery unwittingly tightens the noose around Hamilton’s activities as he is drawn deeper into the case, threatening his defense contracting business and political ambitions. Carvalko brings a certain authenticity to the plot as a veteran and trial lawyer who actually brought the Army into Federal Court to answer to the whereabouts of a POW.
Josip Novakovich wrote: Carvalko has written a wonderful military mystery novel, with great authentic details and deep psychological insights–a thrilling trip into our past. Novakovich is a current nominee for the Man Booker International prize 2013, Whiting Writers’ Award recipient and bestselling author of April Fools Day, Yolk, Salvation and Other