Ten Years Gone
- Author: Jonathan Dunsky
- Genre: Mystery
- Publication Date: May 31, 2017
- Publisher: Lion Cub Publishing
- Series: Adam Lapid Mysteries #1
Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: Holocaust flashbacks, trauma, grief, murder, violence, blood, discussion of war, murder of children, gore, attempted sexual assault
On the dusty streets of post-war Tel Aviv, a crafty killer roams free…
Israel, 1949 – Private detective Adam Lapid knows how it feels to lose everything. His whole family died in Auschwitz. He barely survived. Now he spends his nights haunted by nightmares and his days solving cases the police won’t handle.
Hired to find a missing boy, Adam thinks the case is hopeless. But he can’t turn down a mother searching for her only child.
What Adam doesn’t realize is that this case will soon put him in mortal danger. For at the root of the mystery lies a double murder that has stayed unsolved for ten long years.
Adam must untangle a web of lies and betrayal to get to the truth. And he’d better watch his back because some of the suspects are willing to kill to keep their dark secrets buried.
I was really intrigued by the story, and while I tend to stay away from Holocaust fiction, the idea of what a survivor does after the war was so fascinating to me that I couldn’t resist. Added to the fact that it is set in one of my favorite places in the world, and it’s a mystery, made this a perfect fall read for me.
I was hooked within the first chapter. It opens with the main character, Adam, waking from a nightmare of his time in Auschwitz, and these flashbacks haunt him throughout the story. His experiences have fundamentally changed who he is as a person, but I got the impression that he’s come to terms with that about himself, and accepted it.
Adam is portrayed as such a realistic character, written with strengths and weaknesses that rang true. While he spends his days investigating crimes, he’s also a vigilante, committing crimes, although he operates by a strict moral compass that guides his actions. I found myself respecting his actions, even when I didn’t necessarily agree with them, and could easily understand his motivations. All of the characters in the story are well-rounded and beautifully created as three-dimensional individuals, down to the side characters who played small roles. I loved the attention to detail that the author devoted to not just the characters, but the setting as well.
In addition to being a wonderfully crafted mystery, this is also a work of historical fiction. As a story set in 1949 Tel Aviv, it allowed me the opportunity to see a country I love through a completely different lens—as a recently independent country, free from British rule and newly returned to Jewish hands, and fiercely independent but struggling after the staggering losses of the Holocaust, British occupation, and the War of Independence, surrounded by hostile neighbors. Yet even so, we get to walk the streets with Adam and see the pride the people take in living in Israel, working together to support their country, even amidst the difficulty of absorbing so many refugees, which led to food rationing, lack of housing, and all of the other issues that come along with an influx of new citizens.
At the center of the story is Adam trying to find a woman’s son. After Kristallnacht, she gave him to someone she knew and tried to smuggle him to the British Mandate of Palestine, in the hopes that they could be reunited once she could get a passport. After the Holocaust, she made her way to the newly freed Israel, only to find that the trail had gone cold. And when she enlists the help of Adam, it’s already ten years later. And struggling with his own complex grief, he doesn’t have the heart to turn her away.
The story is full of plot twists and action that I wasn’t quite expecting. I was quickly pulled into the story, which was surprisingly atmospheric. I could practically feel the heat and dust on my skin, since the writing was descriptive and evocative without being flowery and overdone. In addition, I loved learning more about the history of Israel and the origins of the modern state, including the different political factions, which were broken down in an easy-to-understand way.
Overall, I can’t pass up on a good mystery with high stakes and an emotional hook, and this book had it all. It’s done beautifully, with characters that I felt like I could relate to, and it made me want to dive headlong into the rest of the series. This is a fantastic series that I couldn’t stop reading, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of these books, which I was pleasantly surprised to see were self-published.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 5
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Categories: Book Review