Review: LINEUP by Liad Shoham

LineupLiadShohamAudioLINEUP takes place almost entirely in Tel Aviv though really there is not much about it that couldn’t happen in any decent-sized city. It opens with the rape of a young woman – Adi Regev – on her way home one night. Adi only reluctantly reports the rape when her parents become concerned that she hasn’t contacted them for several days; long after she has washed off any possible physical evidence left by the perpetrator. Consequently the policeman in charge of the case, Eli Nachum, doesn’t have a lot on which to build an investigation. Which at least partly explains why, when Adi’s father presents him with a suspect, Nachum allows himself to use the somewhat questionable evidence to help progress the case.

This is another book I think I enjoyed all the more because I knew nothing of it going in. I chose it purely because it is set in Israel – a country I have adored visiting and in which there isn’t a lot of crime fiction set – and I hadn’t read any of the spoiler-laden blurbs and reviews that abound online (I am heartily fed up with ‘reviews’ which offer nothing more than plot details). So the story was a constant surprise for me. In a way it is a series of sequential stories rather than one single narrative. Though the characters are a constant we move from viewing things from Adi’s perspective to her father’s to Eli Nachum’s to that of the man considered the main suspect (and a few others besides these). It is only really in the last quarter or so of the novel that the characters’ perspectives join up to form a more traditional parallel narrative. I liked the way the perspective progressed because it provided a thorough picture of how a case like this can impact so many lives.

I didn’t realise this while reading but I wasn’t surprised to learn the author is a lawyer. Not just because the legal aspects of the case have a real ring of truth to them (though they do) but because he is able to depict the light and shade of the legal system with more than the average amount of sympathy. This doesn’t mean he lets the lawyers (or anyone else) off lightly, but in teasing out the reasons why this case goes wrong – a poor decision here, a grieving parent there, a misguided but well-meaning action over here – he shows us the complexities of the system and the myriad of things that need to align for every investigation to run smoothly. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact this novel incorporates both the traditional police procedural elements as well as a nuanced look at the legal side of things.

Above and beyond these excellent attributes LINEUP really shines with its characters. From the outset – when we meet an elderly lady who watches the neighbourhood from her apartment window with her high-powered binoculars – I was completely engaged by the people in this novel. Because of its loosely sequential structure we have a chance to get to know each significant character quite well before moving on to the next person so it feels as if the reader has a deeper connection with multiple characters than might be the case if everyone was introduced together. I was wary when the novel started unfolding from the suspected culprit’s point of view but even this character had me completely hooked within a few short passages.

Apparently there are several earlier novels from Liad Shoham that have not been translated from the Hebrew (oh how I curse my mono lingual status) but it looks like there’s at least one more that has been translated and I am officially on the lookout for it. LINEUP is nuanced, engaging and full of surprises and if you’re even vaguely into audio books I can thoroughly recommend Saul Reichlin’s narration.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator Saul Reichlin
Translator Sara Kitai
Publisher Audible [2013]
ISBN/ASIN B00EIN515Y
Length 9 hours 54 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series standalone?

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5 Responses to Review: LINEUP by Liad Shoham

  1. Glad you found a winner here, Bernadette. I’m completely with you on stories where we get to know the characters really well. I think it helps you understand what happens in the plot that much better, and it gives you a reason to keep reading.

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  2. Bill Selnes says:

    Bernadette: I enjoyed the book but not as much as yourself.

    I had hoped that I would learn more about Tel Aviv and Israel than I did from the book. I felt there was much to say it was set in Israel.

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    • Oh I do agree Bill that it’s almost completely devoid of any sense of its location. I’m trying to be less judgemental about that these days as I realise it’s a bit unfair of me to expect every book set in exotic (to me) locales to ooze local flavour of some sort as it’s not the author’s primary job to take me on a virtual journey. But I do love a book even more when there is a sense of location

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  3. I like the sound of this book, especially the focus on characters which can often be overlooked in the genre. Another for my Goodreads TBR list I think! Thanks for sharing your review.

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