Seven Day Book Challenge – Day Six

Day six and in the home straight. Today’s book is The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon …

… an old fashioned whodunnit in an alternative reality – the alternative reality being Sitka, a Jewish homeland in Alaska with a lease that’s about to expire.

The protagonist, Meyer Lansdman, is a down-on-his-luck homicide detective with all the usual characteristics of his ilk who lives in a seedy hotel following his divorce. When one of the hotel’s occupants is murdered, Landsman determines to track down the killer and finds himself caught up in an increasingly tangled web

At first glance this might seem like classic American detective fiction and, to be fair, there are elements of it that remind me of Chandler or Hammett. What sets it apart is the overlay of this Yiddish world that makes it feel like a scene from film noir gone slightly off kilter. Like Murakami’s Dolphin Hotel, Sitka is a strange old world within a modern world. It’s familiar and yet foreign, real and yet surreal.

As I write this, I realise I have chosen two books in a row that feature seedy hotels and abstract settings – as well as murders, of course – a literary taste I wasn’t aware I had, before now.  

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