Book Reviews,  FICTION,  Israel,  Mystery

Bethlehem Road Murder by Batya Gur ** (of 4)

At the height of the second intifada, with tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at the ignition point, a Jewish girl of Sephardic origin is found murdered in the attic of a house being renovated by Arab workers.  The characters peopling the block of the murder, including the police, are peaceniks, right-wingers, Ashkenazim elitists, Yemenite and Moroccan Jews, and hapless Palestinians caught up in the nightmare of distant suicide bombings and a ruthless Israeli police response.  Every chapter begins in obscurity and the plot focuses nearly entirely on the unfolding evidence.  So on the one hand you feel like a detective as things slowly become clearer, page by page, but on the other this is one of Gur’s weakest, because the characters are flat, and chief detective Michael Ohayan doesn’t do much but show up in scene after scene to examine a new clue.  April 2009.