A sixteen-year old boy is missing in a Tel Aviv suburb. His mother is worried. Inspector Avraham Avraham is not. It is unheard of for children to vanish in this city. But the next morning brings with it a sickening dawn. The boy, Ofer, is still missing; the mother wretched; and a neighbourhood is waking to a shadow of suspicion in its streets and within its homes. Avraham struggles under the bewildering weight of an unprecedented case, as the grip of fear paralysing him extends its reach across the city. The boy's neighbour, Ze'ev Avni, struggles with the secret he is keeping from his wife. HE cannot stop thinking about Ofer and believes he had a unique insight into his disappearance. The answer for both of them is shifting under the surface. Only Avraham's sense of disquiet can lead his faltering steps to the truth: a truth so unimaginable, it will take all his courage to face.
I am somewhat confused as to why this novel was called the Missing File as te name appears to have nothing to do with the story told in this book. Perhaps this is merely something that was lost in translation.
In contrast to the more fast paced USA mystery type novels, this one sets a slower pace and feels as though the actions of the protagonist are more authentic.
In this novel the detective is ‘ploddy’ he takes his time working through this investigation and in so doing the author describes the more mundane aspects of police work. This detective constantly doubts himself and often misses major clues proving he is not a good detective. He is aware of his own limitations and the limitations of his office. The detective has the makings of a very complex and compelling character. But this reader did not find him a likeable character with very few redeemable characteristics (it may be that some of the protagonists characteristics have been lost in translation). Perhaps this is something that the author will deal with in later novels in the series.
This novel deals more with police procedure and the need for run of the mill detectives to constantly report to their superiors than actually investigating the incident in question. The interactions between the bungling detective and the more astute, quick humoured colleagues and officials are inspired, as are the conflicts which are inherent when working as part of a team.
What is refreshing is that Avraham made mistakes and takes time to acknowledge those mistakes. Although this book is readable it failed to fully engage me and the author missed a great opportunity of providing the reader with a real taste of Israel. What I did find confounding was the side trip. I really could not work out what, if anything, this had to do with the plot.
The plot was slow and ploddy, much like the detective, with some twists and turns and the final reveal was a surprise. Due to the two points of view many things are repeated which was unnecessary, tedious and did not help the novel’s development. I found both protagonists unlikeable and unreliable.
Although the plot is cleaver it did feel as though it became secondary to the development of the characters. The book never really picked up any speed; rather the book seemed to drag and I found myself struggling to remain invested. Overall I was disappointed with this potentially intriguing novel.
Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.
I rated this 3 stars on Negalley and 'I was OK' on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).