It’s not every day that a man who was fighting to destroy you a year ago asks you to help find who killed his sister. Private investigator Adam Lapid, who had fought heroically in Israel’s War for Independence in 1947-48, is confronted with that request. So much for enjoying your coffee at Greta’s Café in downtown Tel Aviv.
The client is an Arab; the police suspect his older brothers may have killed the young woman as part of the family’s honor code. She had fallen in love with a Christian, who was more instrested in a short-term fling. The brothers likely killed the Christian but have adamantly denied killing their sister, since someone got to her before they could. Lapid undertakes the job, and soon finds himself dodging pimps and the henchmen; low-life types who haunt seedy hotels; threatening police officers; and his own nightmares about Auschwitz, where his wife, children, and family died in 1944.
The Dead Sister is the second novel in the Adam Lapid mystery series by Israeli author Jonathan Dunsky. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed novel, and a fine example of the mystery sub-genre of Israeli noir. Dunsky advances Lapid’s personal story as well, and we learn about what happened at Auschwitz (to his family and himself) and how it’s left him a man fundamentally broken.
In The Dead Sister, Dunsky tells a grabber of a good story, mixing period politics, the violence of organized crime, and a private detective who still can’t come to terms with the loss of his family in the Holocaust. The novel also raises the question of law and justice, and what can happen when the law can’t stretch far enough to ensure justice.