Murder on a Kibbutz: A Communal Case

Batya Gur, Author HarperCollins Publishers $20 (350p) ISBN 978-0-06-019026-2
Gur's third Israeli mystery thriller involving detective Michael Ohayon of the Serious Crimes Unit (following Literary Murder) is at least as much about the world of the kibbutz as it is about the murder of beautiful, headstrong kibbutz secretary Osnat Harel. Much of the narrative is rather slow by American mystery standards, although it yields a fascinating account of the ways in which this quintessential Israeli institution has changed, and in some ways failed to change, with the years. There are telling portraits of older kibbutzniks and of the stresses they face-including those that led to Harel's death by poisoning and to a riot of suspicion and recrimination within this insular society. The many subplots-including Harel's affair with an outsider, now a member of the Knesset, the conflicts among Ohayon's police force and even the detective's developing romantic interest in a young colleague-are only intermittently interesting. Toward the end, the pace picks up nicely, and the resolution has a powerful inevitability. But not all mystery buffs will likely persist that long. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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