cover image Literary Murder: A Critical Case

Literary Murder: A Critical Case

Batya Gur. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (357pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019023-1

As she did in her absorbing U.S. debut, The Saturday Morning Murder: A Psychoanalytic Case , Israeli writer Gur follows Michael Ohayon, Superintendent of Criminal Investigations in Jersusalem, on the trail of murder set within a small, tightly structured community. Here, two professors in the Hebrew Literature Department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem are killed on one weekend: young lecturer Iddo Dudai is poisoned in Eilat by carbon monoxide introduced into his scuba diving tanks, and Shaul Tirosh, Israel's most prized poet and head of the Literature Department, is fatally bludgeoned in his university office. The week before, Dudai, who had recently returned from a research trip to the States, had challenged Tirosh's critical views in a public seminar. Tirosh, remotely elegant and a known womanizer, had just ended a longtime and widely acknowledged liaison with the wife of his ardent supporter and colleague, Tuvia Shai, and had turned his attentions to Dudai's young wife. While unraveling the tangled personal and professional relationships that knit the victims and suspects (who are chiefly the members of the literature department), the scholarly Moroccan-born Ohayon finds himself drawn to Tirosh's poems, instinctively believing that they hold the key to the case. As he uncovers the diverse and profound betrayals that lie behind the crimes, Ohayon takes his first trip to the U.S., adjusts to an unwanted break from his married lover and oversees the interaction of his own colleagues. A complex mystery set in an unusual, well-developed milieu with a full cast of multi-dimensioned characters, Literary Murder is literary pleasure. (Nov.)