Murder in the Choir
By Ruth Shidlo
Hoopoe Publishing, 2016. Pages 309.
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Reviewed by Carol Novis
Murder in the Choir is a gripping, professionally written mystery centered on the classical music scene in Tel Aviv.
It’s a refreshingly adult book, by which I mean that it treats its readers as intelligent, informed adults and doesn’t condescend to them in any way. The assumption is that they are conversant with modern composers; need no explanations about the poem by French poet/screenwriter Jacques Prévert which begins the novel without explanation; and accept as normal the fact that the love interest is between two women.
Araceli Pena is a soprano from Madrid, visiting Israel for the summer to take part in an Opera Workshop in Bat Yam. Then she disappears. She is found by Detective Inspector Helen Mirkin dead in her rented home. Suspects include a collection of fellow singers, patrons and organizers of the workshop. Then the composer Israel Berger is shot, heightening the tension.
Simultaneously, Helen’s relationship with Mira Morenica, who is mourning her deceased partner, is slowly developing, with various emotional ups and downs. Will the two end up together? Will Helen solve these knotty murders?
The action shifts around well-known landmarks in Tel Aviv and further afield, which are very realistically described, until the satisfying denouement.
This is the second in the series of Helen Mirkin mysteries by Ruth Shidlo, whose impressive background, which no doubt lends authenticity to her books, includes a doctorate in clinical psychology. She works as a clinical psychologist and trauma therapist and is active in Shorashim - Israel Donor Families (a community-based, volunteer-driven organization aimed at advocating the rights of donor-conceived offspring in Israel and abroad.
I look forward to the next in the series.