Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘Israeli police detective’

A MISSING FILE by D. A. Mishani: Book Review

Early on in D. A. Mishani’s debut novel, A Missing File, police detective Avraham Avraham (no typographical error) is talking to the mother of fourteen-year-old Ofer who, she says, didn’t come home from school that day.

“Do you know why there are no detective novels in Hebrew?” Avraham asks Hannah Sharabi.  He mentions Agatha Christie’s books and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  “Because we don’t have crimes like that,” he answers his own question.   “He’ll be home in an hour…maybe tomorrow morning at the latest.  I can assure you.”  But Avraham is a bit too sure, too smug; Ofer doesn’t come home later that day or the next.

Avraham Avraham is a thirty-eight-year-old detective in a quiet suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel.  Children or teenagers never disappear from Holon.  Though Ofer hasn’t come home by the following morning or contacted his mother, Avraham is still not overly concerned.   However, he does institute a police search of the apartment house where the boy lives with his mother and two younger siblings.  His father, an engineer on a ship, lives with the family when he’s in port, although he travels frequently.

However, by the afternoon of the following day, Avraham admits to having second thoughts.  He’s beginning to worry that he hasn’t been professional, that he was too eager to dismiss Ofer’s mother’s visit to police headquarters.  And now, although the police search finally has begun in earnest, there still aren’t any significant clues to the young man’s whereabouts.

Ze’ev Avni is a neighbor of Ofer’s family.  He appears to have an unusual interest in the police proceedings, rather than in the boy’s actual disappearance.  A high school teacher, Ze’ev tells the police that he had been approached several months earlier by the family to tutor Ofer in English.  According to Ze’ev, the tutoring had gone well and he and his pupil had begun to develop a sort of friendship when suddenly the boy’s mother told Ze’ev that Ofer wanted to stop his English lessons and get tutored in math and science instead.  But Ze’ev is convinced that that isn’t true, that for some reason the boy’s parents were actually the ones who wanted the lessons stopped.

Throughout the novel, Avraham is tormented by feelings that he didn’t pay sufficient attention to the missing boy’s mother.  When the time comes for him to go to Brussels for a long-planned vacation he doesn’t want to leave the investigation, but he is forced to go by his friend and mentor in the department.  However, by the end of the novel, Avraham and the reader realize that this trip has been a life-changing event for him.

Mishani’s detective is a lonely soul.  He celebrates his thirty-eighth birthday during the investigation into the teenager’s disappearance, and it’s a sad occasion.  He seems to have no life outside his work.  When Marianka, the woman he meets through a friend while visiting Brussels, asks him what he does when he’s not a policeman, he answers, “I’m a policeman then too.”

Steven Cohen has provided a wonderful translation of this novel from the Hebrew.

D. A. Mishani is a literary scholar and teaches courses on the history of detective literature.  His first novel is a character study as well as a mystery, and both parts mesh perfectly.  You can read more about him at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.