Every now and then I read a novel that has garnered critical acclaim that just leaves me cold. On occasion this is twinned with the frustration of not being able to see any discernible reason for this. So it was with Lineup, the first novel from this acclaimed Israeli writer to be translated into English.
It’s not that this is a bad novel, far from it. It’s well written, well plotted and will keep you guessing until the end. When one thinks of Israel in thrillers and novels of this type, one automatically thinks of the conflict with the Palestinians. Lineup only very briefly touches on this subject, the plot itself concerning organised crime in Israel. Liad Shoham is to be applauded in this regard, this being an aspect of the Israeli state that few outside the country are aware of. In the past I worked in current affairs television and worked on a number of programmes that looked at transnational crime. I was surprised to learn that Israeli crime networks had been linked to the trade in Ecstasy into the United States, that Israel was a global hub for the trafficking of women and that a number of Israelis had been linked to the grisly trade in organs from South America. So I found the plot of this novel compelling.
Unfortunately however, there was something that stopped me from crossing the Rubicon from merely interested to gripped. I never felt it difficult to put the book down, that urge to just finish the chapter and to hell with what you’re supposed to be doing. Perhaps the characters weren’t fully fleshed out for me? More likely, I felt it just lacked that extra magic something that turns a book from good to excellent. That said I enjoyed the book and would certainly give the author another chance.
I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars