By D. A. Mishani
When Ofer Sharabi’s mother comes to Inspector Avraham Avraham’s office to report him missing, she is the third mother he’s spoken to that shift.
It’s been a long day and he’s already deciding what to pick up for dinner and what to watch on television while he eats.
Hoping to reassure, Avraham asks, “Do you know why there are no detective novels in Hebrew?”
Mrs. Sharabi looks baffled.
“Because we don’t have crimes like that. We don’t have serial killers; we don’t have kidnappings; and there aren’t many rapists out there attacking women on the streets,” Avraham says.
He goes on to tell her that statistically, she has nothing to worry about. “What I’m trying to say is that I think there is very little chance that something has happened to your son . . . He’ll be home in an hour, maybe three hours, tomorrow morning at the latest. I can assure you.”
She replies, “It’s not like him to disappear like this.”
By the time, Avraham gets to the grocery store he’s regretting his remarks to Mrs. Sharabi and starting to second guess himself. He’s already called the hospitals. What next?
As the hours, then days pass, there’s no sign of 16-year-old Ofer Sharabi — no reported sightings, no abandoned backpack or personal effects and no contact with school friends. According to his mother, he picked up his backpack, walked out the building, turned down the street toward school and hasn’t been seen since. Twice before, Ofer had run away from home; but both times he’d returned.
The only thing that stands out in the void of clues is the downstairs neighbor Ze’ev Avni, who lives with his wife Michal and their son Elie. Ze’ev is a teacher and had tutored Ofer in English for awhile.
“I’ll be happy to speak to you about Ofer,” Ze’ev tells Avraham. “I don’t know what you have learned about him so far, but I have lots to say. I think I got to know Ofer well during the months I tutored him.”
To Avraham, Ze’ev is behaving like someone who has an urge to confess.
As a reader, you’ll be certain you know who did something terrible to Ofer. But author D.A. Mishani doesn’t make it that easy. Even when the crime seems solved, Mishani has a new perspective to blow up previous theories.
Despite what Avraham tells Mrs. Sharabi at the beginning, crime does happen in Israel. In this case it’s a particularly ugly one.
Avraham is a quirky character, a classic Jewish bachelor with a hovering mother trying to get him married and settled. His humility and thoughtful approach to this crime give the story humanity in the face of the terrible crime at its center.
This is the first of the Avraham Avraham series and was followed by:
- A POSSIBILITY OF VIOLENCE (2013). Inspector Avraham Avraham, returning from a much-needed vacation abroad, is assigned to investigate the discovery of a suitcase loaded with explosives found near a suburban Tel Aviv day care.
- THE MAN WHO WANTED TO KNOW EVERYTHING (2015). Promoted to commander of investigations Avraham is called to the scene of a murder on a stormy night. To his own shock, he discovers he knows the victim, Leah Yeger, a widow brutally murdered in her home. He first met her years earlier as the victim of a rape. But her rapist is still in prison.
- CONVICTION (2021). Two investigations begin on the same day. In one a newborn is found in a bag outside a hospital and the woman who abandoned it is caught in a few hours. In the second a Swiss tourist disappears from a beach hotel near Tel Aviv. Initial inquiries show that he was using a fake passport and at least two names. His daughter claims he was a Mossad agent. The two investigations “spiral into a maze of violence and deception, leading to Israel’s darkest secrets — and threatening to put Avraham in conflict with the most powerful men in the country, who technically don’t even exist.”
This book was adapted by David E. Kelley for a Peacock network series “The Calling,” which debuted November 2022. The television series is set in New York and portrays Avraham as a Hassidic Jew whose knowledge of Torah and Jewish ethics gives him a singular ability to encourage witnesses to open up and tell him what they know.
The Author: Dror A. Mishani
Dror A. Mishani is a a scholar of detective fiction history.
THE MISSING FILE was shortlisted for the 2013 CWA international Dagger Award and won both the Martin Beck Award for best translated crime novel in Sweden, and the Grand Prix du Meilleur Polar des Lecteurs des Points in France.
He lives with his wife and two children in Tel Aviv and teaches creative writing and detective fiction at Tel Aviv University.