Review: The Missing File, by D. A. Mishani (Trans. Steven Cohen)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Quercus, 2013. Kindle edition. 463 KB. Translated from the Hebrew by Steven Cohen. First published in Israel in 2011 by Keter Books as Tik Needar. eISBN: 978-1-78087-650-4. ASIN: B00B83PNX2. 

The Missing FileOfer Sharabi, a sixteen-year-old boy, has gone missing in Holon, a city in the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv. He went to school that Wednesday morning as usual, and no one has seen him ever since. His father, Rafael, a merchant seaman, is currently abroad and can’t return immediately. His mother, Hannah, is particularly concerned. She had a bad feeling when she found his son’s mobile phone switched off in his room. He had never before forgotten his phone at home. Ofer has a fourteen-year-old sister and a brother of five, with whom he hardly ever speaks. When Hannah is reporting his disappearance that same evening at the police station, inspector Avraham Avraham tries to convince her that there is little chance that something wrong can have happened. ‘Regular kids don’t just disappear. They may decide to cut school, to get away from home for a few hours, or be too ashamed to come home because they think they’ve done something unforgivable. But they don’t simply disappear.’ He paints several plausible scenarios to convince her to wait until the next day. But Ofer is still missing, and inspector Avraham feels guilty. However, he is very determined to find Ofer. Meanwhile, Ze’er Avni, Ofer’s former private English tutor, is trying to tell his own version to whoever wishes to listen to him. Although, in view of his strange behaviour, he will become the prime suspect.

The Missing File is Mishani’s debut detective novel and was published in Hebrew in 2011 titled Tik Needar. The English translation by Steven Cohen is shortlisted for the 2013 CWA International Dagger. The main reason why I read it, besides the fact that I had not read any crime fiction from Israel before. To be honest I found the pace of this book extremely slow, at least until the first two thirds of the plot, and I lost interest. The characters have very little substance and are too boring for my taste. Their feelings and / or emotions remain hidden. Maybe the only interesting  thing I found was the exploration that makes about the multiple possible explanations for the same facts and its final, open to different interpretations. I understand it’s the first in a series featuring inspector Avraham Avraham. Without  interest for my taste despite some good reviews.  

My rating: 2/5.

The Missing File has been reviewed by Norman at Crime Scraps Review, NacyO at The Year in books, Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, Lynn Harvey at Euro Crime, Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts, Cathy at Kittling: Books, Jeremy Megraw at Crime Fiction Lover, among others.

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The Missing File de D. A. Mishani

Ofer Sharabi, un muchacho de dieciséis años de edad, ha desaparecido en Holon, una ciudad del área metropolitana de Tel Aviv. Fue a la escuela ese miércoles por la mañana como de costumbre, y nadie lo ha visto desde entonces. Su padre, Rafael, marino mercante, se encuentra actualmente en el extranjero y no puede regresar de inmediato. Su madre, Hannah, está particularmente preocupada. Tuvo un mal presentimiento cuando encontró el movil de su hijo apagado en su habitación. Nunca antes se había olvidado su teléfono en casa. Ofer tiene una hermana de catorce años y un hermano de cinco años, con los que casi nunca se habla. Cuando Hannah está denunciando su desaparición esa misma tarde en la comisaría, el inspector Avraham Avraham trata de convencerla de que hay pocas posibilidades de que algo malo le puede haber pasado. “Los chicos normales y corrientes no desaparecen. Pueden hacer novillos, alejarse de casa durante unas horas, o sentirse demasiado avergonzados para regresar a casa por creer que han hecho algo imperdonable. Pero no desaparecen sin más.” Le pinta varios escenarios posibles para convencerla que espere hasta el día siguiente. Pero Ofer continúa sin aparecer, y el inspector de Avraham se siente culpable. Sin embargo, está muy decidido a encontrar a Ofer. Mientras tanto, Ze’er Avni, antiguo profesor privado de Inglés de Ofer, está tratando de contar su versión a quien quiera escucharlo. Aunque, a la vista de su extraño comportamiento se convertirá en el principal sospechoso.

The Missing File (El archivo que falta) es la primera novela policíaca de Mishani y fue publicada en hebreo en el 2011 titulada Tik Needar. La traducción inglesa de Steven Cohen es finalista al premio CWA Internacional Dagger de este año. La razón principal por la que lo leí, además del hecho de que no había leído antes ninguna novela negra de Israel. Para ser honesto, he encontrado el ritmo de este libro extremadamente lento, por lo menos hasta los dos primeros tercios de la trama, y perdí interés. Los personajes tienen muy poca sustancia y son demasiado aburridos para mi gusto. Sus sentimientos y / o emociones permanecen ocultos. Tal vez la única cosa interesante que encontré fue la exploración que hace acerca de las múltiples explicaciones posibles para los mismos hechos y el final, abierto a diferentes interpretaciones. Entiendo que es el primero de una serie protagonizada por inspector Avraham Avraham. Sin interés para mi gusto, a pesar de algunas buenas críticas.

My calificación: 2/5.

11 thoughts on “Review: The Missing File, by D. A. Mishani (Trans. Steven Cohen)”

  1. José Ignacio – Thank you for your thoughtful and honest review. I’ve been wondering whether or not to read this. I have read very positive reviews and others as well. I think for the moment I will wait…

    1. Thanks for your comment Margot, just note that there are other bloggers with a more favourable opinion. It seems to me I’m in a minority.

  2. Thanks for the honest review Jose. I entirely see your point about the slowness of the novel, but in some perverse way I rather enjoyed the laconic pace and totally dispassionate feel to the prose. Like you I had not read an Israeli crime novel before (as the author points out, it’s not a burgeoning market there!) so found it an interesting experiment!

  3. I find it quite fascinating that there can be so many different opinions about a single book. I definitely fell more into ravencrime’s camp – for some reason the pace and lack didn’t bother me as much as it might do in other circumstances. I was definitely more interested in the second main character than in Avi, and it was the plotting that engaged me more than the characters – so I can’t imagine I’ll be too quick to read another in the series but I did like this one more than you did.

    1. Thanks for your comment Bernadette. In my view there are too many things that don’t justify its lenght. The plot could have worked better as a novella or a short story.

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