This is a procedural/mystery novel from Israel, written by Mishani, translated into English by Cohen. The mystery that starts the book is as simple and basic as they come; a mother reports that her teenage son has disappeared. There’s a bit of a personal angle for the lead character, Detective Avi Avraham, because he sent the mother away when she first arrived to file the missing person report, telling her to give it another day and see if he came back home. So, he’s kind of haunted by that now. The story alternates between the perspective of Avraham, a weary, cynical, uncharismatic detective, and Ze’ev Avni, a neighbor who tutored the missing boy and is hiding . . . well, something . . . but what? It’s an interesting book and Mishani has a strange, almost clinical style (might also owe something to the translation) that somehow expresses the emotion of the characters without ever particularly having real empathy for them. It’s a chilly and bleak novel. The ending isn’t particularly surprising until a supporting character suddenly reveals that there’s a second possible reading of the evidence, but they’ll never really know which solution is true. The end result is the same, but the second reading is substantially more tragic and it feels like a sucker punch. I might note, for anyone planning on reading this, don’t read the entire book waiting for the revelation that there’s some kind of secret file that’s missing. The title is the result of an unfortunate linguistic hiccup in which the original Hebrew title indicates The Missing File as a file for things that can’t be found, but the emphasis of the phrase when translated to English more naturally falls on The Missing File as a file that cannot be found. There is no file that can’t be found, so don’t waste your time theorizing about that plot twist. Still, it’s a solid debut novel; it isn’t particularly remarkable and the two perspectives never quite come together in the mythic way I think they’re supposed to, but it’s fine. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – mystery novel from Israel has some good ideas and a uniquely clinical perspective, but it never quite coheres the way it should. 2 ½ stars.