Aviva Kagan was just a teenager when she left her Hasidic Jewish life in Brooklyn for a fling with a smiling college boy from Florida-and then disappeared. Twenty-three years later, the child she walked away from is a NYC tabloid reporter named Rebekah Roberts. And Rebekah isn't sure she wants her mother back in her life.
But when a man from the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, N.Y. contacts Rebekah about his young wife's mysterious death, she is drawn back into Aviva's world. Pessie Goldin's body was found in her bathtub, and while her parents want to believe it was an accident, her husband is certain she was murdered.
Once she starts poking around, Rebekah encounters a whole society of people who have wandered "off the path" of ultra-Orthodox Judaism-just like her mother. But some went with dark secrets, and rage at the insular community they left behind.
In the sequel to her Edgar Award finalist Invisible City, Julia Dahl has created a taut mystery that is both a window into a secretive culture and an exploration of the demons we inherit.
The plot of Edgar-finalist Dahl's so-so second novel featuring New York City reporter Rebekah Roberts (after 2014's Invisible City) is as much about Rebekah's struggles with the possible reentry into her life of her estranged mother, Aviva Kagan, as it is about her investigation into a suspected homicide. Levi Goldin, whose wife was found dead in a bathtub, disputes the official verdict of suicide, and asks Rebekah to dig deeper. Rebekah is still recovering from the trauma, both physical and mental, of her first mystery involving the ultraorthodox Jewish community, and she soon abandons her current job doing rewrites behind a desk. Flashbacks from the perspective of Aviva, who abandoned her daughter as an infant and who married out of her faith, detail how she rebelled against the strictures of her Jewish upbringing in the very type of community Rebekah now probes. A moving denouement makes up in part for the less than compelling mother-daughter story line and a major plot contrivance.
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Invisible City/Run You Down
Rating Julia's two books together since Run You Down really needs to be read after reading Invisible City. The two books are great reading with an interesting story on the main character's life and connection to Haredi culture through her estranged mother as the stories-- crime mysteries-- unfold. The stories build to an exciting climax to each book. The first book, Invisible City can be read on its own, but Run You Down really needs to be read as a sequel. Not everyone agrees, but I think the two books could make a nice movie.