This is the second book in Mishani’s mystery series about Israeli detective Avi Avraham; this one, like the first, was written in Hebrew and then translated into English, in this case by Todd Hasak-Lowy. I found things to like in the first book, but didn’t quite take to it the way I wanted to. I’m glad I decided to keep reading, because this book is leaps better than the first one. This book begins with a bomb scare at a daycare center; a mysterious suitcase is found at the scene, but the “bomb” it contains is a mock-up, completely fake. At first, this looks like a prank. But then another phone call comes in: “The suitcase was just the beginning.” Like the first book, this one has dual perspectives. Avraham is the first perspective, of course, and the second is an aging father who has two young children enrolled at the local daycare. Like Ze’ev Avni in the first book, he’s hiding something, but he’s so closed off that even when we’re in his head we only get glimpses of it. The story here was a lot more interesting in my opinion than the first book; it expands really nicely from where it begins in an organic way and it has twists & turns. The book is also just more emotional. The character of the father is way more relatable than Avni was in the first book; his love for his children and his guilt over his failings as a father are very real and sad. Likewise, Avraham is more interesting in this book. This isn’t a series where characters reset between books; Avi is haunted by his failure and the mistakes he made in the first book where he investigated the disappearance of a teenage boy. He’s seeking a measure of redemption here, only a few weeks after the events of the first book, but it’s not easily found. And the ending of this book strikes a really great balance between the very sad and the more hopeful. I really, really enjoyed this. Looking forward to book three. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – second book in Israeli mystery series improves on the first immensely with a twisty, engaging story that is also very sad and evocative. 3 ½ stars.