Book Review

A Death In Jerusalem

A Death in Jerusalem

  • Author: Jonathan Dunsky
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Publication Date: March 7, 2022
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Series: Adam Lapid Mysteries #7

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: violence, blood, grief, Holocaust imagery, mention of death, PTSD, suicide, mention of death of a child, misogyny, homophobia, murder, torture, mention of sexual abuse

He knows who did the killing. Now he needs to figure out why.

Israel, 1952 – Private detective Adam Lapid tries to do the right thing. He may end up in prison because of it.

To stay free, Adam must work for a man he hates. The case is unusual. The identity of the killer is known, but the motive is a mystery.

As Adam scours the historical streets of West Jerusalem in search of the truth, he uncovers a connection between his case and a recent unsolved murder. He also meets an enigmatic woman with plenty of secrets and is hunted by a ruthless cop who blames Adam for a crime he didn’t commit.

In a case full of action and twists, Adam must use all his skills to solve the mystery. And if he doesn’t watch his back, he may end up paying the ultimate price in his quest for justice…

This is the most recent release in the series, and I’ve been dragging my feet on reading it. Not because I don’t love the series (I absolutely do), but more so because I wasn’t ready to finish reading all the books that are out and have to wait for a new release. But my curiosity won out, and I had to find out what was going to happen next. 

There’s a lot of things to love about this series. One of them is that I never fail to learn more about Israel and the history of this amazing country. In this case, the story moves settings from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and we get an inside view of what it was like when Jerusalem was still a divided city, and Jews weren’t allowed to access their holiest religious site. The atmosphere along the division line was tense, and Dunsky does a fantastic job of making readers feel like they’re right there alongside Adam as he travels through this city. But even more informative was the way he explores the political, economic, and emotional climate among people in Israel in the early 1950s. 

As the country absorbed more and more immigrants fleeing antisemitism, the economic situation continued to worsen. The idea of reparations from Germany was on the table, yet it was hotly debated. Politicians knew that this could be the influx of money that could bail out a sinking economy, but there was an emotional component as well, most strongly felt by the people who survived the Holocaust, and those who lost loved ones to Nazi Germany. Adam himself sums up the issue here: 

“For if we agreed to accept reparations from Germany, if we even entered into negotiations on that issue, it meant that the dead could be quantified in dollars or marks. That the crime could be redressed monetarily. And it couldn’t. Not for all the money in the world.”

The book starts with a protest against reparations that quickly turns violent, placing Adam in a tenuous situation that leads to serious danger. The danger lingers throughout the book, as he’s pulled into working on a case that tests his morals. While he doesn’t like or respect his client, investigating a suicide piques his interest, even as it challenges his morals and values. In addition, he’s also concerned about how others will react to his actions during the protest and the aftermath, since it’s such a polarizing issue in Israeli society.

He decides to work the case on behalf of the woman who committed suicide, rather than the client who is paying him, in order to appease his moral compass. But as usual, what he finds places him in danger. However, another thing I really love about this series is that it doesn’t follow the same old formula for each book. Every story in the series is vastly different, and carries an emotional punch that pulls a reader in and gets us emotionally invested not only in the outcome of the case, but also in Adam himself. 

Adam struggles not only while working the case, but he also deals with his own internal issues throughout the story. Beginning with the riot and the issue of reparations, but also violence and what he discovers through his investigation, he is forced to confront his own past traumas. As a Holocaust survivor who lost his career, his entire family, his home, and a lot of who he used to be, he lives with that trauma. It shapes every single aspect of his life, from his eating habits to his sleeping habits to his personality, relationships, and career choice. Of all of the people in his life, he keeps nearly everyone at arms distance, except for two women, and that changes dramatically in this book. Circumstances lead him to push one of the women away, and the other one gets closer to him, and it was really intriguing to see how he deals with that. 

I have to say, this book was exceptionally done. I love this series, and I can’t wait to find out where it goes next. There’s always something happening that I never see coming, and I love how the reveals come, always surprising me with who is behind the crime and how it all unfolds. I’ve become quite attached to Adam and the small group of people around him, and I want to see things turn out well for him, and see him end up happy and content, although I suspect that he’s got quite a struggle ahead of him before he can even consider getting to that point. But in the meantime, I love watching him get his own brand of vigilante justice and right wrongs in the world that aren’t being corrected, making the world a better place by solving one overlooked or ignored crime at a time. And I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

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: 13

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