His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.
A woman, Adi Regev, is raped in a Tel Aviv suburb but doesn’t report it to the police until pressured by her distraught father. Any direct DNA evidence has disappeared by now but the father hangs around her flat, half to protect her, half to see whether the rapist will strike again.
He surreptitiously photographs Ziv Nevo, a down-on-his-luck ex-army explosives expert, who is acting suspiciously in the area. Then he persuades his daughter that this must be the man. Nevo is duly picked up by the police but Detective Eli Nachum - getting on a bit, feeling squeezed between tetchy superiors and ambitious younger officers - realises that the identification of the rapist in the line-up has been fatally compromised because Adi has already been shown his picture. He thinks of a way to get round this little legal obstacle.
Meanwhile Ziv at first denies and then admits to the rape, something which the reader knows is not the case. Because of the tarnished evidence, Ziv walks free even though he is guilty of a different crime, a mob-related one which is still to be disclosed in full. What’s going on?
This is the promising premise for Lineup, the first of Liad Shoham’s books to be translated into English. The author is a lawyer so the book is persuasive on the detail of the bargaining that leads up to a trial, and the relationships between prosecutors and defenders.
In addition, we see events from several other perspectives. There is Detective Nachum, arguably a bit of a cliché in his world-weary determination to get to the truth. A young reporter dreams of glory on a national newspaper, and sees the hunt for the rapist as a way to make his name as well as to escape from his bullying editor. The estranged wife of the suspect believes in her husband’s innocence and is drawn into the plan to help him escape from the Israeli ‘mafia’.
The most sympathetic character is not a detective or lawyer but Ziv Nevo, because he is fundamentally decent and has the most to lose. Lineup relies too much on coincidence and some of the plotting comes close to being tangled rather than intricate, but it’s well-worth a look.