This is the third and latest novel in Mishani’s mystery series revolving around Israeli detective Avi Avraham. The second book was a lot better than the first and this one is best of all, a really wonderful mystery, a heartbreaking tragedy and a fascinating character study all rolled into one. As this book begins, Avi is called to the scene of a murder, his first as the head of his department and he immediately realizes that he knows the victim; some years before, she was the victim of a rape Avi investigated. But with the rapist still safely locked away in prison, is there really a connection there? And what of the reports that the last person to see the victim was a policeman? All of these books have dual perspectives, being told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Avi and some other character that has a strange connection to the mystery at hand. In this book, that second lead character is Mazal Bengston, a young woman with a troubled marriage and a deeply traumatic past and she’s absolutely the best second lead Mishani has come up with so far. Her story is incredibly painful and only gets more and more heartbreaking as the book rolls on. The title of the book is a sucker-punch waiting to happen; there’s a lightbulb moment late in the book when you suddenly understand exactly what’s happening and why and what the title means and it was a devastating moment for me. I’ve watched Mishani improve over these first three books and he’s crafted a real masterpiece here. The plotting is better, the mystery is better, the characters are better and the book finally adds up to what he’s been chasing this whole time: a novel that functions as both a compelling police procedural and a heart-breaking character-based tragedy. His others have gotten there in fits and spurts, but this one builds perfectly and just crests into a perfect ending of real emotional catharsis. I’m glad I kept on with this series after the disappointing first novel; Mishani’s made his mark and if he stops this series now, it’ll still have been great. But if he can keep this level of quality, he can keep on as long as he wants. 4 stars.
tl;dr – third novel in mystery series succeeds on all fronts: a compelling procedural mystery, a sympathetic character-study & a heart-breaking tragedy; Mishani’s crafted a masterpiece. 4 stars.