Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

The Yiddish Policemen's Union
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In an alternate history where Israel lost the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Jewish people largely resettle to a federal reserve in Sitka Alaska. In modern times, the terms of the agreement that allowed this are about to expire, and the population will be forced to move again. This is the setting for a noir crime novel, deeply embedded in Jewish culture with a bit of Alaskan-native thrown in for spice.

The setup is a bit depressing, but very well-written. Classic tragic anti-hero rebel alcoholic divorced homicide detective for a protagonist. Very Casablanca get-out-while-you-can feel to the setting. Then we turn to a bit of a spy novel as plots are unravelled. Reconciling the end of the second kind of story - where traditionally villains are smote in time for tea and medals - with the dark mood of the first is a little hard-going, but Chabon does an excellent job of bringing it together, even if it means we don't get to see all the loose ends tied up. All-in-all, I liked this one.

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