cover image The Missing File

The Missing File

D.A. Mishani, trans. from the Hebrew by Steven Cohen. Harper, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-219537-1

At the beginning of literary scholar Mishani’s outstanding first novel, Insp. Avraham Avraham of the Holon police tells a complainant that there are “no detective novels in Hebrew” because crimes in Israel are straightforward, with no real mystery. Subsequent events show that a crime committed in Israel can offer plenty of mystery. When Hannah Sharabi expresses anxiety about her 16-year-old son, Ofer, who’s failed to return home from school, Avraham dismisses her concerns of foul play. As time passes and Ofer doesn’t reappear, Avraham feels increasingly guilty. Officials soon launch an investigation, which becomes the obsessive focus of a neighbor of the Sharabi family, Ze’ev Avni, who tutored the high school boy. Avni can’t stop involving himself in the case in bizarre and self-sabotaging ways. Mishani, the editor of international fiction and crime literature at Keter Books in Israel, puts his expertise in the genre to good use in combining the procedural and the puzzle with artful misdirection. Agent: Marc Koralnik, the Liepman Agency (Switz.). (Apr.)