I’ve been reading mysteries for decades and I’ve yet to come across a body found 50 feet up in a crane in the midst of a salvage yard…that is until Invisible City, a debut novel by Julia Dahl. Rebekkah Roberts, a stringer for the New York Tribune is sent to the scene.
Nobody is talking but she gets the crane operator to describe seeing a leg dangling out of the scrap in the crane. The salvage yard is owned by a Hasidic Jew, Aron Mendelssohn. The police converge as does the M.E., an ambulance and an ambulance with Hebrew lettering on it…which is the one that carries away the body.
According to Jewish law, the dead are buried very quickly. With the help of a rogue cop, Rebekkah is allowed to see the badly bruised body in the funeral home prior to burial. It is murder. There are no two ways about it. And it turns out to be Aron’s wife, Rivka.
There are two stories going on in Invisible City. The first is Rivka’s exploration outside of her Hasidic roots. The second is Rebekkah’s mother, Aviva’s similar exploration, which resulted in a liaison with her father, the product of which is Rebekkah. However, Aviva abandoned her child and returned to her family, something that Rebekkah has yet to come to terms with.
There are many (well, maybe several) series about newspaper reporters solving crimes. This is a new spin with the fact that Rebekkah is a rookie and she’s dealing with the very insular Hasidic community. Dahl has created a great set of characters in Rebekkah, her friend Iris, her boyfriend Tony and rogue cop Saul Katz. The Brooklyn locale always interests me. This is not as gritty as Visitation Street by Iva Pochoda, which takes place in Red Hook, very close to the Gowanus locale of Invisible City.
I’m assuming this is going to be a series and I look forward to the next installment. I highly recommend both of the books mentioned: Invisible City by Julia Dahl and Visitation Street by Iva Pochoda.