Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Murderer Said Shalom

What makes someone choose a certain book to read? Lots of reasons, I reckon. Including the writer’s reputation, the cover, personal recommendation, and media reviews. And of course the title. So I couldn’t resist The Murderer Said Shalom [1]? Set in Tel Aviv and Herzlia it’s a combined whodunit, howdunit and whydunit. Lolita Escort Agency madam and part-time hooker Sheba Richards, is found dead in a hotel bath. Police Commissioner Cohen assigns Chief Inspector Biton and Sergeant Mizrahi to investigate. They quickly narrow the suspects to Richards’ co-members of the Sharon Writing Group. The suspects – including Elvis Teitelbaum, Fortuna Finetush and a gynaecologist called Dr Goldfinger – are colourful and absorbing characters, as are the detectives, and indeed all the book’s people. Given the plot and the dramatis personae, the book can hardly fail to please. And it doesn’t – though some of the detection methods require suspension of belief. It’s the debut novel of Dr Leonard Stein – a South African paediatrician who migrated to Israel [2]. I like Stein’s quirky tongue-in-cheek style and his deft use of forensic medicine. The back-cover blurb says he wrote the book encouraged by The Writing Circle. I wonder if its members are as flamboyant as the Sharon Writing Group’s. Anyhow, now that Stein’s established his reputation with me, I won’t need to rely on his next book’s title to entice me to read it. I hope it appears soon.
P.S. I think my Dad – who died 41 years ago today – would’ve liked Stein's book.

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