A finalist for the Edgar and Mary Higgins Clark Awards, in her riveting debut Invisible City, journalist Julia Dahl introduces a compelling new character in search of the truth about a murder and an understanding of her own heritage.
Just months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she's also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.
Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah's shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD's habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can't let the story end there. But getting to the truth won't be easy—even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it's clear that she's not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.
The secretive society of Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jews provides the backdrop for Dahl's impressive debut. Rebekah Roberts, a reporter for a New York tabloid, covers the murder of Rivka Mendelssohn, whose naked body has been found clenched in the teeth of an excavator in a Brooklyn scrap yard, whose owner, Aron Mendelssohn, a prominent Hasidic leader, happens to be the victim's husband. As Rebekah questions the black-clad women ruled by men and God, she opens wounds left by just such a woman: her own mother, who abandoned her at birth to return to her Hasidic roots. Rebekah's Jewishness gains her access. Because the police, for reasons of their own, are turning a blind eye on the case means she is the only one looking for answers. Dahl's convincing dialogue and perfect pacing make for a real page-turner. And her storytelling skills illuminate the intriguing worlds of the tabloid press, Hasidism, the NYPD, and Brooklyn's 20-somethings as well as the fragile boundaries of family, religion, and life itself.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fascinating Setting in Hasidic Community
Enjoyed the book. I live in New York City in the West Village, but have been to Williamsburg and Crown Heights, but knew little about the Hasidic community, although I was always curious. This setting for the story was fascinating. Loved the viewpoint of the young reporter as well.
Rebekah Roberts is a stringer for an NYC tabloid newspaper when she gets sent to a crime scene where a body has been discovered. As she begins to investigate the story, some uncomfortable connections to her own life come to light, as the murdered woman was a Hasidic Jew, which was also true of Rebekah's mother, who abandoned her as a baby. It is very difficult at first for Rebekah to get any info on the murdered woman from the tightly knit and closemouthed community, but before long a police officer who is part of that community is taking Rebekah to talk to the woman at the funeral home who prepared the body, and giving her information. As the threads begin to unravel, Rebekah faces danger herself and has to try to decide who she can trust.
This was a very good book with great characters and an intriguing storyline. I liked Rebekah and enjoyed the details and information the book provided on the Hasidim. The sheltered community in the middle of Brooklyn made a great backdrop for the story. The story kept me guessing, and was very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to the next Rebekah Roberts book.