A middle-aged woman has been brutally murdered in her home and Inspector Avraham Avraham is called to the scene. Two clues present themselves to the inspector. The woman was the victim of a rape that he had investigated years before, and a policeman was seen leaving her building on the day of the murder.
We meet Inspector Avraham Avraham for the third time in The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything by D.A. Mishani, translated by Todd Hasak-Lowy (Harper Paperbacks, November 2016). We previously followed his investigations in The Missing File and A Possibility of Violence. Things are a bit different for the Holon Police officer this time around. He now serves as commander of investigations and this is his first murder case.
Avraham is not exactly surefooted in his new position. The clues are there but Avraham doubts whether he is fully capable of understanding them. He finds it difficult to convince the officers on his team that solving the murder case is not as simple as it originally seems. He is filled with anxiety, uncertainty. It doesn’t help that his girlfriend’s parents are visiting from Belgium, questioning both his integrity as a detective and whether he is a suitable suitor for their daughter.
Avraham’s story is told in parallel to that of Mazal Bengston, a young woman struggling to salvage a marriage set off course by her traumatic memories of being raped on a business trip. That crime was never solved, a fact that apparently troubles her husband more than her. When Mazal discovers a gun in her apartment she begins to fear that her unemployed husband’s creepy behavior is a sign that their marital problems are more serious than she could have imagined.
This novel is not exactly a whodunit but rather a why-he-done-it. Although we solve the case early in the story, earlier than Inspector Avraham that is, we never fully understand the motives of the killer. At the book’s somewhat unexpected conclusion we are left a bit confused, not totally satisfied. Still, the novel makes its mark as a step-by-step police procedural, one with complex, realistic characters that we look forward to meeting again, on Avraham’s next case.
Dror A. Mishani is an Israeli crime writer and literary scholar, specializing in the history of detective fiction. His detective series, featuring police inspector Avraham Avraham, was first published in Hebrew in 2011 and is translated to more than 15 languages. The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything is his third novel. Mishani lives with his wife and two children in Tel Aviv and teaches at Tel Aviv University.