The pleasure in reading a mystery novel by Israeli author D.A. Mishanicomes in watching how the story unfolds. The reader usually has a good idea as to the “who” of the whodunit; Mishani excels at developing the “why” and the “how.”
In The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything, Detective Avraham Avraham, now head of the homicide investigating unit, is called to investigate the murder of an older woman in her apartment in Holon, part of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. She’d been strangled; the signs suggest she know her murderer or she was comfortable enough to allow entry into apartment. The only clue as to whom the killer might be is given by a neighbor, who says he saw through his door eyehole a policeman in uniform going down the stairs shortly after hearing bumps in the apartment above.
It turns out that the dead woman had been involved in a previous case. She’d been a rape victim and had testified in court, but the rapist was still serving his sentence. The police routinely begin to check with other rape victims, to see if they’d had any recent experiences with a uniformed policeman. One says she had; the policeman had claimed a need to re-interview her because the guilty man was planning an appeal. Patient checking of CCTV in the area yields a suspect.
A policewoman shows the photograph to another rape victim, who says she doesn’t recognize him. But the policewoman can see that the woman may be lying. And in this case, she does know the man in the photograph.
Mishani develops two narrative lines in the story. One is of the police investigation; the other is of a family where the wife knows something is going wrong with her husband. Eventually, the two narratives converge.
The Man Who Wanted to Know Everythingis Mishani’s third Avraham Avraham police procedural story. The first was The Missing File, followed by A Possibility of Violence. In all three, he enters the detail of the daily lives of ordinary people, the people you pass on the street, work with, and perhaps know as part of your own family. Slowly, and almost surgically, he peels back faces and facades to tell a story of murder.
Top photograph: Apartment houses in Holon, Israel.