Crimes in Israel

Liad Shoham's latest book has been translated into English, for which the lovers of noir may be grateful. Asylum City could also be considered a mystery and a delightful one. A passionate volunteer for African refugees in Israel is murdered, and the pressure is on young Inspector Anat Nachmias to wrap it up quickly. Problem is, she doesn't believe the confession of the migrant who turns himself in, and neither does the victim's boss and friend. Told in alternating voices, this intricately-plotted novel brings to light a side of Israeli society one almost never hears about on the news.

Shoham's first book to be translated from Hebrew is called Lineup. A man is accused of rape in a quiet Tel Aviv neighborhood. However, there is no evidence connecting him to the crime, and he isn't talking, either. Eventually, the suspect takes a plea deal, but is freed on a technicality, causing the detective on the case to be fired. After another rape by the same perp, the former detective attempts to solve the case to win back his job. Much like Asylum City, this novel is complex and suspenseful. Fans of James Patterson will probably like both books.

Need more? Batya Gur wrote a mystery series also set in Israel starring Chief Inspector Michael Ohayon. Starting with The Saturday Morning Murder, in which Ohayon is given a panoply of suspects for a respected  psychoanalyst's demise, these are also complex tales full of suspense. These novels also have some humor as well as insight into human nature and are cheerier than Shoham's books.

Omar Yussef is the protagonist of Matt Rees' mystery series. Beginning with The Collaborator of Bethlehem, one realizes how complicated and grim things are for Palestinians. Yussef is trying to prove a former student did not murder a PLO soldier nor is he a collaborator with the Israelis. The character realizes the absurdity of his quest, indeed, his entire existence. Yussef teaches history in one of the refugee camps while trying to remain apolitical. Twisty, fast-paced plots and descriptive, gritty writing make this a winner of a series.

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