A Pos­si­bil­i­ty of Violence

D. A. Mis­hani; Todd Hasak-Lowy, trans.
  • Review
By – December 5, 2014

In the days lead­ing up to the Jew­ish New Year, a Tel Aviv emer­gency line receives a call stat­ing that a suit­case has been left unat­tend­ed in close prox­im­i­ty to a child care cen­ter. It is quick­ly deter­mined that it con­tains a fake bomb, one inca­pable of explod­ing, albeit quite capa­ble of foment­ing fear. It is on that same day that the pro­tag­o­nist in both of D.A Mishani’s nov­els, police detec­tive Avra­ham Avra­ham, returns to his office for the first time since an extend­ed stay in Brus­sels. He’s tech­ni­cal­ly still on leave, but a man sus­pect­ed of leav­ing the suit­case has been brought in and, due to ill­ness and vaca­tions, there are no oth­er inves­tiga­tive offi­cers on duty. Avi offers to han­dle the inter­ro­ga­tion before return­ing to his last few days of leisure. 

As it turns out, his vaca­tion has pre­ma­ture­ly come to a halt. There is no one else avail­able to take on the case, so it falls to him by default. There is a bomb of sorts at the cen­ter of this sto­ry, but it is not a tale of pol­i­tics or reli­gion. The sus­pects all appear to be relat­ed to the child care cen­ter: the own­er, par­ents who had run-ins with her over the treat­ment of their chil­dren, and a pre­vi­ous employ­ee who was fired. After expe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant issues with his last case, Avi is fear­ful of mak­ing the same types of errors again. His self-con­fi­dence and even the future of his career lie in the bal­ance, but as with any com­plex inves­ti­ga­tion it is impos­si­ble to avoid errors. As it might in real life, the details of the case unrav­el uneven­ly and halt­ing­ly, often mov­ing back­ward before resum­ing any for­ward progress. 

The book might well be char­ac­ter­ized as a police pro­ce­dur­al, but it parts ways with most in that genre. The thrill of read­ing Mishani’s nov­els doesn’t come in the form of stereo­typ­i­cal police ban­ter and action scenes, but from the com­plex­i­ty of the char­ac­ters and the unex­pect­ed twists and turns that can occur in any human life, but are rarely wit­nessed. The read­er is a fly on the wall and it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing place to be. As of the last word on the last page, there remain loose ends. They will nev­er be tied up neat­ly because they nev­er are, are they? Life is messy. D.A. Mishani’s sto­ry­telling is rec­og­niz­ably dif­fer­ent and in a way that has pro­vid­ed me with a great deal of enjoy­ment. More, please!

Relat­ed content:

Nao­mi Tropp recent­ly retired after a long career in non­prof­it man­age­ment. She worked on the Ann Katz Fes­ti­val of Books at the Indi­anapo­lis JCC for 9 of its twelve years and direct­ed the fes­ti­val for three of those years.

Discussion Questions