Wednesday, September 20

Murder in Jerusalem by Batya Gur

Review by Theodore Feit


This novel is the sixth and last Michael Ohayon Mystery (the author died last year).  Having not read the previous five entries, it is possible only to look at this one as a standalone, without reference to the past.  The idea for this book grew out of the author's screenplays for a miniseries on Israel's Channel Two.  Of course, Channel One is the official government-sponsored television station, which is the setting for this story.


From this reader's point of view, the overwhelming detail throughout about the operations of a television station is overdone, as are the characterizations of the various correspondents, directors and secretaries at Israeli Television.  Repetition and overbearing descriptions merely bog down the reader.  On the other hand, the insights into the politics and complex world or contemporary (and past) Israeli society are fascinating and realistic.


The tale begins with the death of a scenic designer one midnight, at the station.  It appears to be an accident (or murder?), soon  followed by a series of  other deaths of station personnel.  Enter Inspector Ohayon and his police assistants to piece the story together: the relations, fears, loves and complexities that make the station function.  The investigation brings to the fore the ideals of the nation and raises the specter of past national crimes.


After the slow start, the book gathers momentum and swiftly moves to a fascinating and enlightening conclusion.


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