Shoham, Liad - 'Lineup' (translated by Sara Kitai)
He watched Nevo. His gut told him he was the rapist. After twenty years on the job, he could trust his gut.
Tel Aviv, Israel.
The old woman watches the street through her night-vision binoculars - a little treat she bought herself that she hasn't told the family about. Later she hears a noise in the yard and uses them to look out of the bathroom window. Unbelievable. A couple are doing it down there. No. A woman is being raped. The old woman freezes. She must call the police. But the man twists his head to look up and she steps back with her heart racing. Better not. Too old to do anything, too vulnerable. Her heart.
The shattered rape victim makes it back into her own apartment. She stands under the scalding water of the shower and scrubs herself. Then she showers and scrubs again. And again.
Liad Shoham is a practising commercial lawyer who lives in Tel Aviv and he is Israel's top crime writer. LINEUP is his fifth book but the first to be translated into English and Shoham has complimented Sara Kitai's translation in several interviews. The story starts with a rape and the hunt for the rapist by police, a local crime reporter and the victim's father. In this multi-viewpoint narrative we also get to know the suspect and there is no doubt that he has done something criminal. But is it the rape? And if not him, then who? When a second, more violent, rape is discovered, events accelerate. The suspect is on the run again and - as if he doesn't have enough problems - the Israeli Mafia has joined the chase.
Shoham says that he was influenced by the TV series The Wire in choosing to tell the story from the viewpoint of several characters. His plotting is clever and brisk with a pace that builds the tension well as the story twists and turns to an exciting finish. But there are quite a few characters involved in this fast, multi-stranded approach and whilst their thoughts and views are clearly explained, their individualities are not always so well established. Sometimes I had to pause to recall "who was who" when they popped up to take over the storyline.
Shoham is very funny on why it is hard to write crime thrillers in Israel:
Nevertheless I followed Ziv Nevo's flight and plight with increasing involvement and taut nerves. And despite my niggles I would indeed like to know what happens to one or two of the characters afterwards. Writing crime novels in Israel may be hard but Liad Shoham seems to know how to set about it.
Lynn Harvey, England
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.