The Missing File by D. A. Mishani
Hardcover, 304 pages
Hardcover, 304 pages
Detective Avraham Avraham must find a teenage boy who has vanished from his quiet suburban neighborhood. Police detective Avraham Avraham knows that when a crime is committed in his sleepy suburb of Tel Aviv, there is little need for a complex investigation. There are no serial killers or kidnappings here. The perpetrator is usually the neighbor, the uncle, or the father. As he has learned, the simplest explanation is always the answer. But his theory is challenged when a sixteen-year-old boy named Ofer Sharabi disappears without a trace while on his way to school one morning. There is no simple explanation, and Avraham's ordered world is consumed by the unimaginable perplexity of the case.
The more he finds out about the boy and his circumstances, the further out of reach the truth seems to be. Avraham's best lead is Ofer's older neighbor and tutor, Ze'ev Avni. Avni has information that sheds new light on the case-and makes him a likely suspect. But will the neighbor's strange story save the investigation?
Told through dual perspectives, The Missing File is a crisp, suspenseful tale that introduces an indelible new detective and offers an evocative portrait of suburban life and tension with a universal reach. As it draws to its startling conclusion, D. A. Mishani's twisting mystery will have readers questioning notions of innocence and guilt, and the nebulous nature of truth.
The Missing File is a debut crime/procedural novel by D. A. Mishani, an Israeli crime writer, editor and literary scholar. When Hannah Sharabi, the mother of teenager Ofer Sharabi, reports her son as missing in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, Detective Avraham Avraham is sure that he will turn up and doesn't take her seriously. However, when she returns the next morning saying Ofer is still missing, Avraham realizes that he must start an investigation into the missing teen. The obvious suspect is neighbor Ze'ev Avni who was also Ofer's English tutor. Since the reader is privy to Ze'ev's thoughts and actions, he is clearly the main suspect right from the beginning.
Avraham approaches his investigation almost reluctantly and with what feels like a lot of trepidation. He does not seem to have a great deal of confidence in his abilities and in his team. In contrast to the clever, spot-on detective of most police procedurals who is one step ahead of everyone, Avraham is seemingly one step behind and confused. It is an odd feeling in a crime novel to wonder if the detective is up to the challenge of the investigation. In the meantime, the reader knows all about the activities of neighbor Ze'ev and he is clearly setting off all sorts of red flags.
The story does take a turn and comes together in the end but it follows few of the formula's we are used to, especially concerning the twist at the very end (which I wondered if it was the true reason earlier, so other's might also guess this.) Avraham is a protagonist who doesn't seem to have many heroic virtues, which can make it difficult to feel a great amount of sympathy for him. On the other hand, The Missing File is written to reflect a more realistic picture of an investigation rather than the idealized fictional version we are all so used to seeing.
There were some instances where I felt like something was lost in this translated novel, but since I have an advanced reader's copy some of those mis-steps could have been corrected in the final published novel. In the end I did feel connected enough with Avraham to want follow him on future investigations and maybe get a better hold on this melancholy character.
No quotes since I had an advanced reading copy.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC for review purposes.