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Maror

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Yet the real success here comes not in transcendence, but in bringing everything down to its fallen state.

And in the middle of it all, like Shelob in her lair, or an imperturbable Mr Wolff in Pulp Fiction, the policeman Cohen manipulates politicians, colleagues and crime bosses alike, in service of the country that he loves. Tidhar peppers his pages with every well-known criticism of the politicians who walked the public stage from the 1970s to the present day.If you like your crime stories sleazy, seedy and sordid, full of drugs, criminals and explosions this maybe for you. There’s a lightly disguised Rehavam Ze’evi, nicknamed Gandhi, here rendered as Zrubavel “Genghis” Ha’navi, shot dead in Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel in 2001, and presented as an out-and-out sexual predator. Following it is Genghis' denoument, witnessed by Sylvie in bitterness that he will never now be convicted for his many crimes, instead being memorialised as a great general. That serial killer pops back up too as connective tissue, Cohen was related to the first victim and therefore has a personal stake in how or who is fitted up for the crime. A smart and violent book that tells a history of the State of Israel through fragmented, interconnected chapters that rely on the reader to piece them back together.

Tidhar skillfully weaves themes of identity, memory, and the human condition throughout the story, making you ponder long after you've turned the last page. The author took the book's title from the bitter herb of the Passover Seder meal and seems to have included everything he found unpleasant or distasteful in Israeli society, almost to the exclusion of anything else. Tidhar's writing style is a true marvel, with its poetic prose and a knack for painting vivid, otherworldly landscapes that transport you to the heart of the story.Otherwise, this is a novel that I think I will reread in the future, in fact I think I'd possibly get more out of it then, now that my knowledge of Israel's recent history has been improved somewhat! The Bookman Histories series, combining literary and historical characters with steampunk elements, includes The Bookman (2010), Camera Obscura (2011), and The Great Game (2012).

So many aspects of Maror attract superlatives but they fail to convey the range and breathtaking insight of this epic crime novel. Maror is a profane, irreverent, scathing, sometimes blackly humorous and often compassionate fever-dream history of Israel. I can see what the author was trying to do but it feels like trying to be clever with connections and twists backfired on this occasion. Connections are made through chaos rather than conspiracy, but their consequences follow the grim logic of corruption. Maror' is the story of a war for the soul of Israel - a dazzling spread of narrative gunshots across four decades and three continents.

And then we join Avi one last time, self-exiled in Cancún, Mexico after some unpleasant dealings in Israel for the uniquitous Benny, and uncomfortably lodging with Lior, who followed him soon after.

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