The Missing File
The First Avraham novel (published in Israel in 2011; published in other languages in 2013)
Sixteen year old Ofer, who left his home in Holon one morning on his way to school, disappeared without leaving a trace. Police inspector Avraham Avraham, guilt-ridden and determined to find the missing boy, is gradually consumed by the frustrating investigation that takes over his life. It seems that the more he finds out about the boy and his life, the further he gets from the truth. And only one man, Ofer’s older neighbor and private teacher Ze’ev Avni, has something to tell him. But will the neighbor’s strange story save the investigation before it’s too late?
“The missing File” is a rare Israeli crime novel. D. A. Mishani depicts suburban Israeli life with outstanding talent and creates an unforgettable character of an extraordinary and yet a completely common detective, in the midst of what seems to be a routine investigation which spins out of control. It’s a true page-turner, whose unexpected resolution forces the readers to change all they took for granted about innocence, guilt and the ways in which truth evades us.
International Reviews of “The Missing File”
“Outstanding first novel” – Publishers Weekly (starred review) (US)
“A compelling debut in a complex case aimed straight at the reader’s heart” – Kirkus reviews (US)
“A thoughtful character study of a good man deeply troubled by issues of innocence and guilt” – Marylin Stasio, NYT book review (US)
“Readers of edgy mysteries set in unusual places will eagerly await the planned sequel” – Richmond Times Dispatch (US)
“Brilliant debut (…) One of the best crime books ever to come from Israel” – Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail (Canada)
“An Assured debut, with a wholly unexpected resolution” – The Guardian’s best crime novels of 2013 (UK)
“A bittersweet story, with a fine twist at the end” – The Daily Mail (UK)
“israel is back on the map of crime fiction!” – Elmar Krekeler, Die Welt (Germany)
“Like Swedish author Arne Dahl, Mishani offers us elegant, efficient and realistic crime fiction” – Tobias Gohlis, Die Zeit (Germany)
“Dror Mishani marvelously handles the art of suspense” – Eve Charrin, Les Echos (France)
“A brilliant investigation, full of false leads” – Macha Sery, Le Monde (France)
“A final unsettling twist that subverses the rules of the classic investigation novel” – La liberte (Switzerland)
“The new voice of the Israeli crime novel” – Le soir (Belgium)
“A psychological drama that goes far beyond the standard thriller plot” – Piotr Kofta, Wprost (Poland)
“A Prmosing debut that avoids the genre’s cliches” – Erik Jensen, Politiken (Denmark)
“Truly original and unique” – Jean Bolinder, Dast Magazine (Sweden)
“A subversive take on the standard police procedural with ruminations on the crime novel” – Declan Burke, The Irish Times (Ireland)
Reviews of “The Missing File” (Israel)
Time Out Magazine – “The missing file” is an intelligent, sensitive detective novel, conscious of its genre, which it succeeds to re-create in Hebrew. The greatness of this novel lies in the fact that it does not need gothic techniques in order to create a threatening atmosphere; it is disturbing and unsettling in its descriptions of the familiar and the familial.
Yediot Ahronot, the best books of 2011 – A successful attempt to expand the relatively-shortbook-shelf of Hebrew crime. Mishani gives his readers a short lesson of the constant guilt-feeling of the citizen vis-à-vis the state, in a story of a missing teenager, told through the eyes of the police inspector in charge of the investigation and those of the prime suspect. All this, without renouncing a philosophical deliberation of the role of investigator of truth in an age of truth relativity.
Jerusalem Post – At last, a new detective has come to town. And about time it is, too. It’s been a while since we had the pleasure of an interesting new voice in Israeli mystery writing (…) D. A. Mishani’s voice as a writer is so assured, that this is hard to believe it is actually his first book. Since it says “First inquiry” on the cover, we can hope that many more are to come.
Israel Today – D. A. Mishani’s writing is precise, and is endowed with rare excellence, unusual for a debut (…) The novel’s plot reaches a level of perfection characteristic of the German car industry (…) Avraham Avraham is a literary character with the potential of becoming mythological in Hebrew crime literature, and this is true for its author too.
Haaretz – D. A. Mishani chose to write a ‘police procedural’, a detective story led by a police officer, like Batya Gur’s protagonist Michael Ohayon, rather than a private detective like Shulamit Lapid’s Lizi Badihi. (…) His protagonist, Inspector Avraham Avraham is like me and you: grey, acts slowly, lacks confidence, finds himself in the dark, filled with self-doubt. An anti-hero. (…) He likes to read detective literature and watch crime series on television and then prove (to himself) where and why the fictional detectives went wrong.
The first level of the novel is an attempt to understand the disappearance of a 16 year old boy through the means of police evidence, questions, proofs, just like in ordinary detective literature; the second level reveals itself through the character of Ze’ev Avni, a school teacher that lives in the same block of flats as the family of the missing boy. Ze’ev hints – both to the detective and to the readers – that he knows more about the missing boy than anyone else. (…) Avni, whom Inspector Avraham does not initially question because he wants to focus on the investigation and to get a sense of the people involved, turns to literature. The mystery of the missing boy becomes his inspiration. Without revealing too much I will only say that this is how he arouses suspicion and the interrogator-interrogated relationship between him and Avraham develops somewhat similarly to the relationship between Raskolnikov and his interrogator, Porfiry Petrovitch in ‘Crime and Punishment’.
If it is not completely clear by now I will say it clearly: in my opinion Mishani’s book is above all a true literary oeuvre, told in a direct and convincing style, which draws the readers, in such a humane way, to identify with the damaged protagonists, torn by doubts (…)
Ma’ariv – D. A. Mishani wrote an excellent novel. This is a rare case in Hebrew literature: a well constructed thriller, whose every turn of the plot is justified and well-based, great literature beyond the genre’s definitions, a story rooted in the Israeli experience without being obvious, charged with psychological depth that is interwoven into the narrative.
Everything here is in its right place and in the right measure. And thrilling. Very thrilling. (…)
The author created an indescribable protagonist that the reader naturally identifies with. Detective Avraham Avraham, as grey a name as its bearer, easily joins the very respectable company of Philip Marlowe, Hercule Poirot, Columbo.
The delicate irony of the novel will put on stage another protagonist, whose literary debut will be a criminal act. This young man, also described through his own limited perspective, is already an important literary achievement in itself.
On the cover of the book it says, “The missing file: Avraham Avraham’s first case”. The last sentence of the book says, ‘To be continued’. This thriller reassured me: there is a future.
Walla.co.il – Without ‘deus-ex-machina’ solutions, without breaking the reader’s trust in his detective, Mishani succeeds in creating a plot so intense and at the same time utterly reliable, humane and extremely Israeli. The novel’s ending breaks the reader’s heart and makes him re-evaluate the story from the beginning, without feeling that he’s been fooled (…) Avraham Avraham is cut out to be the Israeli detective of the 21st Century.