The Missing File by D.A. Mishani
Crime Fiction; 304 pgs
From the Publisher:Police detective Avraham Avraham knows that when a crime is committed in his quiet suburban Tel Aviv, there is little need for a complex investigation. There are no serial killers, kidnappings, or rapes here. It’s usually the neighbor, the uncle, the father. The explanation, as he has learned, is always the simplest answer.
But his theory is challenged when a sixteen-year-old boy named Ofer Sharabi disappears without a trace while on his way to school one morning. Suddenly Avraham’s ordered world is knocked off its well-oiled axis and his life consumed by perplexity.The more he finds out about the boy and his circumstances, the further out of reach the truth seems to become. Avraham’s best lead is Ofer’s older neighbor and schoolteacher, Zeev Avni. He has information that sheds new light on the case–and makes him a likely suspect. But will the neighbor’s strange story save the investigation before it’s too late?
I have mixed feelings about D.A. Mishani’s The Missing File. There was much to like about it, from the way the characters progressed throughout the novel to the descriptions of daily life and culture in a Tel Aviv suburb.
Avraham is an unusual protagonist for a mystery novel. He’s rather ordinary. He comes across as a little burnt out, and it’s clear his head isn’t completely in the investigation of the missing boy. Although he is in charge of the investigation, he doesn’t really take much initiative—the events and mystery sort of unfold around him rather than his pushing them along. Something he admits himself at one point in the novel. And yet, it’s clear Avraham doesn’t want to let go of the investigation. It weighs heavily on him. He fumbles his way through it, and he knows he isn’t giving the case his best. This works for and against the novel, I think. On the one hand it makes the story all the more interesting in that I wanted to see how it would all play out. On the other, it left me feeling a bit detached from the character. The author never really gets into why Avraham struggles so much with this particular case, which I’m sure played a part in my feelings about him. Perhaps future books in the series will offer more insight into where Avraham is coming from. I hope so, anyway.
The more intriguing character in the book is Zeev Avni, a high school teacher and aspiring author. I liked how the author used his character to tell part of the story. It added an interesting dynamic, especially given the twist with his character. His actions left me scratching my head more than once—in a good way.
The characters, particularly Avraham and Zeev, are really what make this book what it is. There is the mystery of the missing boy, of course, but there were moments it felt like the secondary story even as everything that happened was tied to the investigation of his disappearance. Like Avraham and Zeev, Ofer is a bit of an enigma. Avraham struggles to understand who Ofer was and what may have happened to him. He never feels like he’s gotten a complete picture.
While I liked much about the book, I felt dissatisfied with the ending. Maybe it will carry over into the next in the series, but it still seemed rather abrupt, especially with the final twist at the very end. Overall, The Missing File is the type of mystery that would be a good book club pick. There’s much in it that lends itself to discussion.
You can learn more about D.A. Mishani and his book on the author's Facebook page.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.
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