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Invisible City: A Novel (Rebekah Roberts Novels) Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Pre-order today
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For 23-year-old Rebekah Roberts, a stringer for the New York Tribune, a story becomes uncomfortably personal as she seeks to get at the truth. The discovery of the naked body of Hasidic Jew Rivka Mendelssohn, found in a scrap yard owned by her well-to-do husband, brings to mind the anger and sorrow Rebekah feels toward her own mother, a Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn who took off when Rebekah was an infant. Her feelings are intensified when Saul Katz, NYPD liaison with the Hasidic community, shocks Rebekah by telling her that she looks just like her mother. As Katz provides Rebekah with inside information and urges her to pursue what is essentially the cover-up of a murder in the closed Hasidic community, she learns that her Jewish heritage goes only so far in her understanding of what she’s investigating. This novel is particularly notable for its combination of a skillfully wrought, increasingly suspenseful mystery populated by well-drawn characters and a deeply sympathetic understanding of a contemporary culture that remains insular for its own understandable reasons. Journalist Dahl’s debut sets a high bar. --Michele Leber
“Strong, blunt prose...a harrowing tale.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“An absolutely crackling, unputdownable mystery told by a narrator with one big, booming voice. I loved it.” ―GILLIAN FLYNN, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl
“[An] impressive debut…Dahl's convincing dialogue and perfect pacing make for a real page-turner. And her storytelling skills illuminate the intriguing worlds of the tabloid press, Hasidism, the NYPD, and Brooklyn's 20-somethings--as well as the fragile boundaries of family, religion, and life itself.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Fast-paced, suspenseful...[Invisible City] rises above the crime-novel genre in its unusual psychological, spiritual and sociological dimensions, entering a world unfamiliar to most people.” ―The Washington Post
“Bringing together the hyenas of tabloid journalism with the secretive, inwardly focused, self-protecting religious Jews, Dahl manages to demonize and humanize both, while delivering a riveting story. I sincerely hope there will be a sequel because after reading the last page, I wanted to know: What happens next?” ―The Boston Globe
“Masterly, pitch-perfect.” ―Haaretz
“Surprising and uncompromising…This is riveting stuff indeed, and Dahl is a major talent.” ―BookPage
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On top of that, the story features one of the Hasidic Jewish communities located in the borough. That's the real eye-opener of this story...the way the lead character Rebekah figures out her way around this closed community and the way it dovetails with her own past. One can tell Ms. Dahl did a lot of research about the so-called "black hats" because her story rings true and her prose is sharp and very engaging. I think you'll be charmed by Rebekah and fascinated by the closed world she enters to solve a crime and find answers to her own past. Highly recommended!!
One more note: I especially liked how Ms. Dahl did not take the easy way to lean on caricatures of the Hasidim. On the contrary, the novel provides perspective to enlighten the non-religious among us as to how this type of cult-ish community provides relief and comfort to those who follow its tenets.
Young Tribune reporter Rebekah Roberts gets interested in the case because her mother was raised Hassidic. Aviva abandoned Rebekah as a baby, and has never been in touch since. So Rebekah has a lot of anxiety relating to her mother. Investigating this crime takes her deep into the Hassidic community life that her mother rebelled against, but never fully escaped.
Rebekah is interested in getting justice for the murdered woman. But her bosses are even more interested in a possible police cover up. Either way, there's a story here that promises to be the making of Rebekah's career.
Although the story reveals the inability of the Hassidic community to deal effectively with violence and child abuse within the community, it also explains, through the words of one of the characters, how the customs of the community arose and how their way of life protects members. So there's an attempt at a balanced view. But the secretive nature of the Hassidic lifestyle does make a perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.
Rebekah's investigation is fascinating, and she's particularly appealing because she's inexperienced and finding her way by trial and error, despite a heavy load of personal baggage.
I loved this book. I read the sequel, Run You Down, before Invisible City, which wasn't the best approach, but my enjoyment of both books was undiminished by reading them out of order. I look forward to future books in this series.