Line Up is an appropriate name for this crime thriller, as the narrative goes back and forth along a line-up of colorful, and very believable, characters.

Sarah Glazer, an 82-year-old grandmother who lives in a quiet Tel Aviv neighborhood, has nothing better to do with her time than to use a recently purchased, and quite expensive, pair of binoculars to spy on her neighbors. There’s this young man from down the street who walks his dog in the middle of the night. Sarah observes the man carefully, ready to make an official complaint if the man doesn’t clean up after his dog’s nocturnal messes. This time, she sees, the man bends down to collect the dog poo with a bag.

Sarah takes her medicine. After all, the doctor told her to space the pills six hours apart, and that is why she is awake at this ungodly hour. But then, something else brings her back to the window. She readjusts the night vision of her binoculars and spots a man and a woman, going at each other like animals. They are animals, she thinks, but she keeps her eyes glued to the scene.

Sarah Glazer doesn’t realize it at the time, but she has just witnessed a brutal rape. The police are called in and hurry to solve the high-profile case. Detective Eli Nahum sees an easy conviction when he quickly arrests a likely suspect. Nahum pushes for the victim to positively identify the suspect in a line-up, but as the case becomes complicated due to legal technicalities, Nahum begins to doubt the suspect’s guilt.

line up liad shohamLine Up is an appropriate name for this crime novel, as the narrative goes back and forth along a line-up of colorful, and very believable, characters. The police officers, newspaper editors and reporters, the victim, the witnesses, the suspect’s family and the Mafia-like crime organization which secretly employs him, all serve as pieces in a puzzle that didn’t appear to be complicated at first glance.

As the case falls apart due to his mistakes, Nahum is fired from his position and the suspect goes free. But then another rape occurs. Who is guilty this time? The police are determined to send a man to prison, while the mob criminals seek to kill their former hired hand.

This fascinating crime thriller marks the English language debut of a leading Israeli crime writer. Liad Shoham is well known in the country; the prolific author’s books have been appearing in Hebrew on bookshelves with a new release nearly every year since 2001. Previously profiled in a Times of Israel article in April, Shoham’s latest book, Asylum City, again details a brutal crime in Tel Aviv and will make its appearance in English next year.

“It’s the dream of any Israeli writer to be translated into English, and I wanted that as well,” Shoham said in the Times of Israel article. “My publishers told me to first succeed in Israel, to become the crime writer, and that’s what I did.”

With the publication of Line Up, the Israeli crime writer makes a welcome debut on the international literary scene.

 

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