Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Review: Literary Murder by Batya Gur

AuthorBatya Gur
TitleLiterary Murder
Date of PublicationOctober 7, 1994
Page Count368 (my German copy: 480)
SeriesSuperintendent Michael Ohajon #2

On a short vacation to the sea with his son, Superintendent Michael Ohajon witnesses the body of a dead scuba diver being pulled out of the sea. The diver turns out to be a lecturer at the Hebrew Literature Institute at Hebrew University in Jerusalem - Ido Duda'i. Back home in Jerusalem, Ohajon helps with the investigation in the lecturer's death, when a second murder victim is found: the head of the institute, Sha'ul Tirosh, a world-reknowned scholar and poet. While investigating the two murders, Ohajon heads back into the world of the university, including its academic talking and the lectures.

To be up front, this book can be boring in some parts for those readers who don't know the basics of studying literature (for example what hermeneutics is). Batya Gur recreated two longer lectures on literature in this mystery and some shorter discussions in conversations between the characters. This, of course, could have been expected in a book set around the world of the lecturers and professors of a literature department at a university. You can of course skip or skim those parts, but I really enjoyed them, as they showed some more distant characters in a new light.

Aside from that, though, the murder mysteries and the characters were so well-developped, it was amazing to read Literary Murder. The characters are really three-dimensional, with different reasons that make them tick. It was hard to keep track of every little detail, which made it impossible (at least for me) to guess who did it up until the very last moment.

On top of that, the setting in Jerusalem was one I have yet to encounter in other mysteries. According to SYKM there are a few more series set in Israel, or Jerusalem, more specifically (do authors know there are other interesting cities in Israel? I'd like to read a series set in Tzfat or maybe Haifa *wink* Batya Gur really brought Jerusalem into my living room and my room at my parents'. It was awesome to almost see the streets of Jerusalem with the old buildings and everything!

In my German copy, the publisher even added some explanations about the Jewish terms, as not everyone might know what "shiva" is. I'm really excited about this series, as it is so different from other murder mysteries / police procedurals I've read in the past, yet, it is similar. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book.

This review is part of Jen's Detectives Around the World week. For more posts about detectives from all different countries, please click on the picture:


  1. I love the site SYKM but I always forget to take time to look over the location index.

    I haven't read any mysteries that took place in Israel -- Thanks for introducing me to a new series.

  2. I have meant to read this mystery series for years and I'm glad you highlighted it. I am definitely a junkie for a good setting. This one qualified in my book!

  3. You're right! This is a unique setting. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I definitely have to look into this one. The only book I can remember set in Jeruselum, at least partially was THE LAST EMBER, which is a thriller, not a police procedural. It's more along the lines of a DaVinci Code-type plot.

    Thanks Katherin, this is such a great addition to the theme week. I'm so glad you have participating!

  4. I would always recommend Batya Gur's mysteries... ;)

  5. I must say, I thought this was a pretty interesting read when it comes to this topic. Liked the material. concrete5 web design