A Death in Jerusalem is Jonathan Dunsky’s seventh novel featuring Adam Lapid.
It opens in January 1952 in Jerusalem, when Lapid marches on the Knesset to protest a proposed law allowing Israel to negotiate directly with West German about Holocaust reparations. Having lost his family in the Shoah, Lapid is angry that Israel would allow Germany to put a price tag on the value of its victims.
Tempers flare, and the protest turns violent. Lapid is caught up in the violence until a sight of the Israeli flag reminds him of the value of Jewish community and the nation Jews have built, whose independence he has fought for. When he goes to pull a fellow protester off a police officer, however, he is mistaken for the perpetrator, beaten by the cops, and thrown in jail.
Though innocent, his fate seems sealed until a phone call miraculously springs him from prison. A wealthy Tel Aviv industrialist has pulled strings with political acquaintances and wants Lapid to investigate the suicide of his daughter Moria. This is the titular “death in Jerusalem.”
The problem is that the officer who arrested Lapid in Jerusalem has taken an irrational hatred toward him, for reasons having to do with Israeli politics and the death of his sister. The more Lapid investigates Moria’s death in Jerusalem, the more he places his life in danger from the cop.
The question is: Will Lapid figure out why Moria killed herself before this deranged officer kills him?
I have read all Jonathan Dunsky’s Adam Lapid novels, as well as his short story, “The Unlucky Woman.” What I enjoy about these novels is the way Dunsky incorporates aspects of Israel’s early history into the mystery. You learn something about Israel as you wonder how Lapid will solve the crime.
This is especially true in A Death in Jerusalem. The intense hatred political factions—specifically, Mapai and Herut—had for one another helps explain the psychological motivations of the characters. Israel’s poverty and desperate straits at this point in its history also gives the story an intensely noir feel. In my opinion, this is the grittiest and best novel in the series.
I don’t know when Dunsky plans to release his next novel, though I’m sure he’s already started it. I do know, however, that this book has cemented my interest in Adam Lapid for the foreseeable future.
Jonathan Dunsky, A Death in Jerusalem (Lion Cub Publishing, 2022).
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