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Book Review: The Missing File by D.A. Mishani

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The Missing File by D.A. Mishani is mystery novel taking place in Holon, Israel. The book has been translated from Hebrew and is one of the few police mysteries/procedural written in Israel.

Israeli police detective Avraham Avraham is looking for a missing boy which disappeared from Holon, a Tel-Aviv suburb. To complicated matters, a school-teacher decides to get involved in the case and offer some not-so-helpful clues which make him a prime suspect.

During the investigation Detective Avraham starts questioning himself, his life and all he knows.

The Missing File by D.A. Mishani caught me unprepared. I was expecting a good book, but what I found was exceptional. The structure is fascinating, and I could not find any glaring plot holes in the narrative.

The book is not only a mystery, but a fascinating glimpse into day-to-day Israeli life and culture without the preaching or propaganda. Mr. Mishani does not underestimate his readers and wrote an intelligent, well built novel.

The protagonist of the book, police Detective Avraham Avraham, is not your typical hero. He is a grey man living in a grey world. Avraham is a good, solid police officer who smokes too much , drinks occasionally, visits his parents but keeps them at a distance, is a bit disorganized and not impressed by foreign colleagues. The detective is not too bright, not much of a politician and hard working; his mind is not the fastest.

It’s difficult to make a grey man interesting; after all, he is simply an average man which we all encounter on a daily basis which is why it’s so much fun to get to know him. It seems as if Avraham is afraid of the world, of his parents, of his female commander (who he dares not think of anything but his superior) and of his fellow police officers who threaten him with their rough exterior.

The story juxtaposes between the detective’s point of view to that of the prime-suspect, a school teacher, who also lives a simple life with his very pregnant wife. The teacher, however, takes active steps to make his dull life seem more interesting. While some of us do take steps to make our lives fuller (for example: start a book blog) the teacher discovers that he got much more than what he bargained for when inserting himself in a police investigation and that being a new father has a very full life whether they asked for it or not.

I especially liked Mr. Mishani’s choice of location. Not many people outside of Israel heard of Holon, but the city is the quintessential Israeli town. It is not flashy like Tel-Aviv or holy like Jerusalem; it is a normal city, not unique in any way where people live their ordinary lives in ordinary ways.

The Missing File was a pleasure to read, the book flows and the author does an excellent job keeping the reader’s interest from page to page. The only issue I had with the book was the translation of the title which, in English, makes little sense but in Hebrew seems appropriate in the context of the story. The book seems to end with a new beginning, and I, for one, am looking forward to the next installment.

  • 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062195379

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format.

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