“Of all his many regrets, it was his decision to write his memories that Avram Cohen now regretted the most”
Thus begins An Accidental Murder, the latest book in Robert Rosenberg’s acclaimed Avram Cohen mystery series. In a tale that takes the retired Jerusalem detective from Germany’s Frankfurt book fair to the Negev desert, as he searches for a murderer in Germany and ends up in the dark netherworld of the new Russian mafia in Israel, Avram Cohen is revealed as never before—a man with a complex past that makes his future most uncertain.
Someone wants to kill Cohen—or so it seems—possibly because of something he wrote in his memoir about his year as an avenger assassinating Nazis after his long-ago liberation from the Dachau concentration camp. But then his longtime protege Nissim Levy is found murdered on the road to Eilat.
Is this a revenge killing somehow aimed at Cohen, or as Nissim’s former assistant believes, could the Russian mafioso be involved?
From private nightclubs where mafia kingpins entertain with vodka-drenched feasts to massage parlors where the women work with cold-blooded professionalism, Cohen’s search for Levy’s killer becomes a twisted journey into a new side of Israel hardly known to the outsider. On the way, Cohen must look back at his own guilt before he can unveil a killer with a misguided but nonetheless profound motive for murder.
This finely drawn novel is, like all the Cohen novels, a portrait of a deeply complicated man trying hard to be moral in a world where greed rules. Building an atmosphere of personal pain and paranoia up until the very last pages of the book, Rosenberg gives us a tour de force.
Retired from the Jerusalem police, reluctantly touring to promote Twentieth-Century Cop, his memoir of his days on the force, Avram Cohen (Crimes of the City) is staying in a German hotel when the chambermaid is murdered and a bomb is discovered under his bed. With his background, Cohen has a long list of enemies to consider, but the field shrinks when, after one of his loyal underlings is killed, Cohen finds himself chasing an old nemesis and battling an assortment of Russian criminals. The pace of the book is languid, almost hesitant, for the first half, as Cohen mulls uneasily over his long, illustrious career. As always, however, Tel Aviv resident Rosenberg's depiction of Israel is a revelation, resonant with social and political subtleties. And Cohen remains one of the most carefully shaded of mystery heroes ("it became easier over the years for Cohen to seal his sorrow away in secret vaults that only he could open"), a man worth spending time with--as is Rosenberg's meditative, psychologically astute prose--even in a relatively weak outing like this one.