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!