Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Missing File by D.A. Mishani


First Line: Across the desk from him sat a mother. Another mother.

A teenage boy has disappeared from a sleepy suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel, yet when the boy's worried mother goes to the police station and asks Detective Avraham for help, he tells the woman to wait until the morning. It's been one of those days for Avraham, and this woman is the third one to talk to him about her child.  When faced with her emotional appeal, Avraham can only ask her, "Do you know why there are no detective novels in Hebrew?" In reply to her puzzlement, he goes on to say, "Because we don't have crimes like that. We don't have serial killers; we don't have kidnappings; and there aren't many rapists out there attacking women on the streets."

Mrs. Sharabi takes her fear and worry home with her, just as she's been told. But when morning comes and young Ofer Sharabi still isn't home, Avraham must begin an investigation into his disappearance-- an investigation where clues are few and far between. It's not long before the police detective wishes he hadn't been quite so glib with the frantic mother-- and he wonders just what part helpful schoolteacher Ze'ev Avni has to play in what's happened.

Most of your enjoyment of this book is going to hinge on your opinion of the main character, Avraham Avraham (no, that's not a typo). I found it almost impossible to like or even to respect him. He suffers from low self-esteem, is lonely and insecure. He doesn't even have confidence in his own abilities, resenting being overshadowed by others in the department who know how to "play the game." The only real pleasure he seems to have in life is to pick holes in the detective novels he reads and the cop shows he watches. More than once, I found myself wondering when he was going to stop whining and start investigating. One of the other characters in the book does a lot more investigating than the detective, and I really began to think that Avraham was right in worrying about his job security.

My pleasure in this book came from the setting of the Tel Aviv suburbs, the longer passages where the reader could begin to get inside the heads of Avraham and Ze'ev Avni, and my gradual realization that the missing boy was very different from the way he was originally portrayed.

I'm glad I read The Missing File, but I would have to think long and hard before I spent any more time with Detective Avraham. I found him way too annoying, but your mileage could certainly vary.

The Missing File by D.A. Mishani
Translated by Steven Cohen
ISBN: 9780062195371
Harper © 2013
Hardcover, 304 pages

Police Procedural, #1 Detective Avraham mystery
Rating: C
Source: Amazon Vine

8 comments:

  1. Hm, that detective does sound very annoying. I'll have to think about this one.

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    1. If you don't handle "annoying" very well, you might want to give this one a miss, Kathy.

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  2. Cathy - You know, I think I will wait on this. I love the idea of the setting, but Avraham just doesn't strike me as anyone I want to get to know. And honestly, he doesn't strike me as authentic. But of course, I haven't 'met' him.

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    1. I have met him, and I don't blame you for your decision to wait, Margot.

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  3. Sometimes I find an inviting mileau or setting can overcome a weak or unsympathetic protagonist, but that doesn't appear to be the case here. Thanks for the review.

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  4. Lately I've been reading and requesting books specifically for their setting but this one doesn't appeal. I need to love or hate the main character, not just be annoyed at him. My most recent reads have had excellent characterizations so I've become spoiled.

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    1. It's so nice to be spoiled, isn't it? :-)

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