Reviewed by Marianne van der Wel
When a crime is committed in suburban Tel Aviv there is little need for a complex investigation. Police detective Avraham Avraham knows that, usually, the explanation is the simplest one. But when a sixteen-year-old boy vanishes without a trace, this theory is tested. The detective’s best lead seems to be the boy’s neighbour and tutor, Ze’ev Avni. He has information that does not only shed new light on the case, but could also make him a very likely suspect.
The Missing File is not a usual ‘whodunit’. The story isn’t really about the solution, it deals mostly with the relationships that develop during the course of an investigation and how there is no objective way of looking at the clues.
For this to work the author had to create human beings. They cannot be the standard all-knowing hero and quirky side-kick. With the minor characters D. A. Mishani did a good job, but when it came to the more complex main characters I think he just missed the mark. The detective’s mood swings faster than a pendulum and by the end of the book you still don’t know what kind of person he is. The teacher was slightly better crafted. It seemed like the author had given him more thought and knew what he wanted from him.
I don’t mind it too much when characters are not yet fully ‘developed’, personally, I can read past this. The thing that I couldn’t read past, and which kept throwing me off, was the way the story was told. First, the story is told in dual perspectives. This is not the problem. It keeps the reader on his toes and involved. But on top of these dual perspectives, parts of the story are told in flashbacks, that just seem to pop up whenever they feel like it. This disrupted the flow of the story somewhat and several times I had to reread a page to figure out when I was reading about.
Having said all of this, I do have to add that I did like the book. Because it is not a conventional ‘whodunit’, it reads very differently from other detective stories. It’s a bit like a ‘behind the scenes’ novel. The storytelling was a bit flawed, but this is the author’s first book. It did intrigue me and I look forward to the follow-up.
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