Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
If you were asked to name off the top of your head a police procedural/crime novel set in Israel then one would be hard pressed to do so. It is therefore really good to see The Missing File poking its head above the parapet. The author D A Mishani is also the editor of international fiction and crime literature at Keter Books in Israel. Translated from Hebrew the book is set in Holon Israel.
When Israeli police detective Avraham Avraham finds himself looking for a missing boy who disappeared from the Tel-Aviv suburb Holon he did not expect to also find himself having to deal with a teacher who seems to think that he can help solve the case. The result is that he becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance. This is not an easy case for the Detective and he soon begins to question not only himself but also all the things he thought he knew.
The Missing File is the type of book that could easily slip (and rather sadly) under the radar. It is however also a fascinating book. The novel comes across as much more than a police procedural. It is an intriguing look into everyday Israeli life and beliefs without the oration or propaganda on politics or religion to spoil the storyline. Furthermore, Avraham himself is an interesting character. Whilst he is a good police officer he does have his foibles. He smokes too much and likes the odd drink and he is disorganised. He does visit his parents but does not appear to be close to them. The story juxtaposes between the detective’s point of view to that of the prime-suspect and it is interesting to read the different points of view. It works very well indeed. D A Mishani’s background as a literary academic comes across very well in this debut novel along with the layers of conflict that he is endeavouring to unravel.
The author has instilled a good sense of place in The Missing File and the fact that it is the suburb of Holon that is the background as opposed to the bustle of Tel-Aviv is part of which makes it stands out.
This is not a traditional crime novel and therefore one could be forgiven for thinking that Mishani with all his knowledge has not been appreciative of the genre. I am pleased to say that this is not the case. My only gripe? The ending of the novel. It will not please many but in some ways this is a good thing as no one wants to read a bland novel.
An impressive debut that will surely stand the test of time.