Private detective Adam Lapid takes most of his meals at Greta’s Café in Tel Aviv. It is 1950, and rationing – and the black market – are the order of the day. Lapid like the café food; he likes the time he can spend there, talking with Greta and playing chess against himself; and he likes the fact that other diners leave him alone. But what he loves is the coffee, the best in Tel Aviv, he believes.
Lapid had a past that stretches back to police detective days in Hungary and the Nazi concentration camps, the camps that took the lives of his wife and daughters and the camps where he almost died. He has a postwar history in Europe, when he spent time in Germany helping to hunt down and murder some of the Nazis who escaped the Allied armies. And he has a history in the Israeli war for independence in 1947-48, when he performed a particularly heroic (or foolhardy, or both) action in the Sinai that got him wounded.
He’s at Greta’s one evening when a man is found dead right outside the café. Lapid knows the man, one Nathan Frankel. He knew Frankel only recently in Tel Aviv, but he knew him even more in Auschwitz. Frankel was the man who saved Lapid’s life after a particularly brutal beating with a whip by a Nazi camp guard, the beating that left permanent scars on Lapid’s back. The detective figures he owes a debt to Frankel, one that will determine Lapid to find who killed the man.
It’s a debt that will take Lapid into people involved with illegal currency exchange, black market activities, organized crime, police corruption, and personal passion. A Debt of Death is the fourth (and most recently published) Adam Lapid mystery novel by Jonathan Dunsky, and it’s an excellent entry in an already excellent series.
The first three Adam Lapid mysteries are Ten Years Gone; The Dead Sister; and The Auschwitz Violinist. He’s also published The Favor: A Tale of Friendship and Murder; Grandma Rachel’s Ghosts; Family Ties; Tommy’s Touch: A Fantasy Love Story; and other works. He was born in Israel, served four years in the Israeli Army, lived in Europe for several years, and currently lives in Israel with his family. He has worked in various high-tech firms and operated his own search optimization business.
Dunsky works Israeli history and its criminal underbelly so well that the reader seems to walk the streets with Lapid as he searches for a killer and pays his debt. A Debt of Honor is one fine mystery read.