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The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Author: Michael Chabon
Year: 2007
Pages: 414
Amazon: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is an imaginative and entertaining mystery novel written by one of the best storytellers of our current generation, Michael Chabon (Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay).

Bound only by the endless confines of Chabon's mind, the author rewrites history to create the setting for the novel. In 1948 the newly formed Jewish State of Israel collapsed through pressure and aggression from neighboring countries. Jewish refugees and their descendents settled "temporarily" in an Alaskan safe haven known as the Federal District of Sitka. But after 60 years, the District is set to revert back to Alaskan control and with an unknown future it's certainly a "strange times to be a Jew".

Amidst the chaos of the upcoming Reversion, decorated yet down on his life Detective Meyer Landsman finds himself in the middle of a murder case. Landsman must come to grips with his own demons and penchant for liquid breakfasts if he has any chance to succeed in unraveling not only the murder, but a larger conspiracy that involves his wife, his sister and even the future of the jewish people!

Litty’s Take

I really enjoyed this novel because of the setting, the characters and Chabon's ability to maintain suspense.

The concept of the Jewish people not having a homeland is not all that far-fetched. Chabon's version of history is a plausible (if not scary) concept, and gets the reader thinking outside of the novel to evaluate the security and future of Israel. Chabon also goes into great detail to explain the Sitka District and how it has evolved and how it might just as easily dissolve. Like all societies there are both unifying themes and culture idiosyncrasies that make it believable.

Landsman is a successful detective who has deteriorated into a lonely drunk. His ex-wife who left him is actually his boss. His partner is a half-Indian Jew that seems to be viewed as an outcast by all. Finally, the characters that Landsman encounters throughout his adventure is an amusing mix of crooks, rabbis, con-men, and shady characters.

It's always an added benefit when a great writer who is masterful at creating characters, develops meaningful themes and brings a story to life also uses suspense to move the plot forward. Not only was I enjoying Chabon's excellent writing but I kept on reading to find out what was going to happen next.

Definitely worth a read if you want something entertaining yet still thought-provoking. Probably a step below Cavalier and Clay but still a very good work.

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