Ofer does not come home that evening or during the night or in the morning. The next day the police begin an intensive investigation into what has happened to the missing Ofer.
Avraham is wracked with guilt over not commencing the investigation the previous night. His feelings are intensified by the memory of his attitude towards Hannah.
There are no leads. Ofer has lived a quiet life. He goes to school. He does his homework. He plays on the computer. He helps take care of sister, Danit, who has Down’s Syndrome, and his young brother. He is not a troublemaker. He has few friends. He does not have a girlfriend. There is no one with whom he is having trouble. There is no reason for him to disappear. There is no one in the apartment building or the school or the community with a reason to harm him. He has no money to go anywhere.
An anonymous phone call saying the body is in some sand dunes near the apartment in Holon (a city just south of Tel Aviv on the coast) causes a futile search.
The caller is Ze’ev Avni, a teacher who lives with his family in the apartment below the Sharabi family. He has had a closer connection to Ofer than anyone outside the immediate family. He had tutored Ofer in English until the sessions were abruptly terminated.
Ze’ev has engimatic thoughts about Ofer. Can the reason for the disappearance involve this rather vain aspiring writer who seeks to stay close to the police?
Ofer’s father, Rafael, is unable to help the police. He is on a ship in the Mediterranean and cannot get back to Israel for several days.
Avraham struggles to move the investigation ahead and struggles even more with a continuing sense of regret.
The investigation is stalled until Ze’ev takes actions that startled me.
The rather plodding pace of the book then accelerates to an ending I had not anticipated.
I found Avraham a rather frustrating police officer. The chain smoking, single, 38 year old Avraham is insecure and consumed with self-doubt. His somber nature would fit well in Scandavia. How can he conduct effective investigations so preoccupied with his own issues?
There is some fine lyric writing, especially since the book has been translated from Hebrew:
That morning, the blue skies stretched out above them as they made their way to the police station, and the breeze, as light as a feather, that accompanied them on their way remained with him long after the case closed.
The closing section lifted The Missing File from an average book and left me wanting to find out what happens in the next Avraham Avraham mystery. In that book, if Mishani can move the whole story along at a better tempo and bring some light into Avraham’s life he will have a good series underway.
It is the second Israeli written and set mystery I have read in a row. Just over a week ago I finished Lineup by Liad Shoham.
Mishani brings an intriguing background to his writing. I will repeat a quote from the back cover I put up in a recent post:
D.A. Mishani is the editor of Israeli fiction and crime literature at Keter Books in Israel and is a literary scholar specializing in the history of detective literature.
My next post will look at references to crime fiction in The Missing File. (Feb. 22/14)