Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

It's a bit of an odd fish, this novel. By Michael Chabon, it tells the story of a case being tackled by detective Meyer Landsman in Sitka, a district in Alaska set up by Jews at the end of World War Two, after the attempt to set up the state of Israel failed.

It's alternate history, but in an odd way. Chabon drops in bits and pieces of the alternate history he has created that led to this situation, but never quite gives real clarity as to how things turned so differently. I'm left wondering whether he has a nice little timeline packed away in his notes somewhere, or whether he just dropped in place names and events without a clear big picture of what happened. As with Abercrombie's lack of maps, I found the lacunae in the world building a bit annoying. The world created is interesting; I want to know more.

The story itself is standard hardboiled detective fare - down-on-his-luck alcoholic cop trying to redeem himself in his own eyes as well as the eyes of his colleagues and family, through solving a case which is not his and which he has been warned not to pursue. Nicely done, with interesting characters and sufficiently many plot twists.

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