Book Review

A Debt Of Death

A Debt of Death

  • Author: Jonathan Dunsky
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Publication Date: November 14, 2017
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Series: Adam Lapid Mysteries #4

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: murder, blood, Holocaust imagery, PTSD, grief, antisemitism, torture, violence, gun violence, gore

The dead man was lying face down in a puddle of blood and rainwater…

When private investigator Adam Lapid finds Nathan Frankel dead in the street, he makes a quick decision:

He will discover who murdered Nathan and punish the killer himself.

Because Adam owes Nathan a debt that can never be fully repaid. Which makes this murder a personal matter.

But Adam’s job will not be easy. Because quite a few people had reason to want Nathan Frankel dead. And some of them are quite willing to spill more blood to cover up for their crimes.

A Debt of Death is a thrilling murder mystery set in Israel, 1951. Join Adam Lapid on his most difficult case, as he encounters a host of unforgettable characters, goes head to head with violent criminals, and puts his very life on the line to solve the murder of a man to whom he owes everything.

From my initial introduction to this series, I have become an avid fan of the Adam Lapid mysteries. Dunsky has created a riveting and complex main character, with his morally gray values and emotional scars, as well as the convoluted crimes that he investigates, and the historical setting of the newly established state of Israel, with its own problems.

If you’ve read any of these books, you know that Adam is only a few years away from his experiences in Auschwitz. He’s been through hell, literally, after losing everything that meant anything to him, including the man he used to be. His experiences have dramatically changed the man that he was, leading to his ongoing refusal to be a part of the police force, despite numerous offers. He’s comfortable in his role as a private investigator, which allows him to pursue justice by whatever means necessary, even those outside of the law.

“I thought of the man I had been before Auschwitz and the man I was today. I often doubted my parents would recognize who I had become. Apart from what time had altered, my face was the same, but my character and values had changed beyond recognition.”

The Israel in which these books are set is a haven for Jews fleeing from persecution in various areas. This influx led to the newly established state being overwhelmed, and food rationing was put in place. Obviously, when food is strictly rationed, a black market is primed to flourish, and this is exactly what happened. Normally law-abiding citizens become willing criminals to obtain food, and people like Adam, who have experienced starvation, are left with lingering issues surrounding food. He discusses these issues, and this is an ongoing issue for survivors even now. I’ve noted them in my own father, who would hoard bread and couldn’t throw away food even when it was abundantly available. Adam discusses it like this:

“The only thing I spent real money on was the food I purchased on the black market. I had a weakness for food—in terms of both quality and quantity. I had known starvation, and I had eaten my share of rotten, rancid, foul food. Experience had taught me that having the latter was better than suffering the former. It also explained why I had trouble discarding anything edible and why I was willing to part with a good deal of money to have something better than the very basic and meager rations the government allotted each citizen. My attitude toward food troubled me at times, but I’d come to accept it as something that was simply part of the man Auschwitz had made of me.”

In this story, Adam takes on a case for no pay other than his own conscience. He feels an obligation to the man who was murdered, and runs his own investigation parallel to that of the police, who he seems to cooperate with, but withholds information so that he can ensure that it does get solved. This book has more plot twists and turns, and a lot of them I didn’t see coming. I love watching Adam solve a case—he’s both instinctual and methodical, and in this one he’s following the clues while fighting against the people working to prevent him from solving the crime and his own memories working against him. In my opinion, this is the best book of the series so far, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I hope it just keeps getting better from here.

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: 11

If you’d like to read this or other books in the series, check out this Amazon link. If you make a purchase through this link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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