source for affordable electronic fiction


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of BETHLEHEM ROAD MURDER by Batya Gur


    HarperCollins, December 2004

    Police Chief Superintendent Michael Ohayon is called in to investigate a murdered young woman, her body found in his ex-girlfriend's under rennovation apartment. Because the victim's face was smashed, identification takes a while, but the Jerusalem neighborhood is tight and the missing woman's identity becomes known. But Zahara Bashari was a complex person. She was pregnant, had recently been given an apartment by her boss, was highly active in a movement to preserve the culture of Yemeni Jews, and had been stalked by a young neighbor girl who used magic in an attempt to take Zahara's place among the beautiful. Of course, the Intifada is an ever-present threat and both police and the neighbors are quick to point their fingers at Arabs in the neighborhood. Much better them than one of their own.

    Author Batya Gur creates a compelling sense of place in the Jerusalem neighborhood where old hatreds and fears have festered since Israel's founding. The city itself, the creepy atmosphere of fear and hatred caused by the violence cycle between Jew and Arab, and the antagonism between European, Asian, and African Jews all come to stark life in Gur's prose.

    The character of Nessia, the young girl filled with self-hatred and with a desperate attempt to conjur a new world for herself is strong and compelling. For me, few of the other characters really stood out, however. Even Michael Ohayon, with his bland and lazy unwillingness to allow his lieutenants to persecute suspicious Arabs too closely, his unexplored fascination with the rediscovery of his teenaged love, and his confused relationship with his fellow police officers didn't really stand out for me.

    I love reading mysteries about worlds outside my own--and Batya Gur's Jerusalem setting is certainly that. Gur's descriptions, the explanation of never-forgotten feuds between European and non-European Jews, and the backdrop of Jewish/Arab hatred certainly makes for compelling reading.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 8/17/05

    Ready to buy it now? Click the buy now button.

    Visit to read more reviews or to purchase BETHLEHEM ROAD MURDER from

    Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?
    Click this link for BETHLEHEM ROAD MURDER from Barnes &

    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

    Check out the Alexa toolbar. It blocks pop-ups (you get to choose), it's free, and it tells you about what websites are popular and who owns them.