Today on the Vis­it­ing Scribe, D. A. Mis­hani con­tin­ues with his series The Mys­tery of the Hebrew Detec­tive,” where he has been inves­ti­gat­ing why it’s so dif­fi­cult to write a detec­tive in Israel. His first detec­tive nov­el, The Miss­ing File, was pub­lished in the U.S. by Harper­Collins. The sec­ond nov­el in the series, A Pos­si­bil­i­ty of Vio­lence, will be pub­lished in the U.S. in 2014. He has been blog­ging here all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

I can hon­est­ly say I was con­cerned by this Mys­tery of the Hebrew Detec­tive,” main­ly before and after writ­ing the first install­ment in my lit­er­ary detec­tive series, The Miss­ing File.

As I come from a fam­i­ly of Mizrahi ori­gins, and since I admire the lit­er­ary tra­di­tion of the real­is­tic police-pro­ce­dur­al, I chose not to back down. My pro­tag­o­nist, Inspec­tor Avra­ham Avra­ham, is a periph­er­al char­ac­ter, from Mizrahi ori­gins, like police offi­cers in Israel usu­al­ly are, and cer­tain­ly like they are in Israeli culture. 

He works in Holon, my home town, which is an urban, low­er-mid­dle-class, sub­urb of Tel Aviv. He did­n’t grow up in a kib­butz, he does­n’t work for the Mossad, and the cas­es he’s inves­ti­gat­ing don’t have any nation­al impor­tance. He does­n’t chase old hid­ing Nazi crim­i­nals and not even Mus­lim ter­ror­ists. In The Miss­ing File, he’s just look­ing for a six­teen-year-old boy, as unim­por­tant as him, who went missing. 

Still, I tried to address the prob­lem of writ­ing a detec­tive in Israel in some ways. 

For exam­ple, my inspec­tor, in this first nov­el, is not very bright and not always suc­cess­ful. My plan is that he’ll get bet­ter and bet­ter as the series con­tin­ues, until he’s as good as Sher­lock Holmes. My hope is that his slow pro­gres­sion will make it eas­i­er to accept him as a real­is­tic lit­er­ary hero. 

I also gave him a female boss, from Ashke­nazi ori­gins, toward whom he has com­plex feel­ings of admi­ra­tion and fear. With this set-up, I tried to reflect the eth­nic and social ten­sions which affect the pos­si­bil­i­ty of him becom­ing a true Israeli hero. 

Have I suc­ceed­ed? Will Inspec­tor Avra­ham become a mytho­log­i­cal char­ac­ter in Hebrew lit­er­a­ture” as one of the nov­el­’s crit­ics wrote? 

I still don’t know. 

I do know that the response to his char­ac­ter and to the nov­el in for­eign coun­tries and lan­guages to which it was trans­lat­ed, were some­times even stronger than they were in Israel. It seemed to me that it was some­times eas­i­er for for­eign read­ers to accept him as true Israeli pro­tag­o­nist than it was for read­ers here. 

But I can tell you one thing about Inspec­tor Avra­ham Avra­ham — he nev­er gives up. 

And nei­ther do I. 

We’re both deter­mined to put an end to this Mys­tery of the Hebrew Detec­tive” — solve it, once and for all. 

Learn more about D. A. Mis­hani here.

D. A. Mis­hani | Jew­ish Book Coun­cilD. A. Mis­hani is an Israeli crime writer, edi­tor, and lit­er­ary schol­ar, spe­cial­iz­ing in the his­to­ry of detec­tive fic­tion. His first detec­tive nov­el, The Miss­ing File, the first in a lit­er­ary detec­tive series fea­tur­ing police Inspec­tor Avra­ham Avra­ham, was pub­lished in the U.S. by Harper­Collins. The sec­ond nov­el in the series, A Pos­si­bil­i­ty of Vio­lence, will be pub­lished in the US in 2014.