by Julia Dahl (Minotaur) ISBN: 9781250043412
When I got this book to review, it seemed as though it would be just another “unputdownable mystery” as the cover blurb describes. It turned out to be so much more. The author, Julia Dahl, is a journalist specialising in crime and criminal justice, who was born to a Lutheran father and a Jewish mother. It is from this that she takes her inspiration.
Her protagonist, Rebekah Roberts, is a young reporter who freelances for a New York tabloid. She is called to investigate the discovery of a dead woman’s body in a scrapyard. It looks like murder. The dead woman is part of the ultra-orthodox Hasidic community in Brooklyn, and Rebekah’s questions reveal a shadowy tangle of power, secrecy, and self-protection. Rebekah’s own search for spiritual meaning and her lost mother finds its place within the mystery, which adds an extra dimension to the narrative.
The author keeps to a tight timeframe and fast pace which makes for exciting reading. But it’s the depth of her exploration into a world seldom exposed that elevates this book beyond an ordinary crime novel.
The mystery unravels the truth about a murder, while exploring the mystery of heritage, belief and human behaviour. Well worth reading.
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