Today I’m reviewing Run You Down by Julia Dahl. This is number two in the Rebekah Roberts series.
About the book (from the publisher): Aviva Kagan was just a teenager when she left her Hassidic Jewish life in Brooklyn for a fling with a smiling college boy from Florida – and then disappeared. Twenty-three years later, the child she walked away from is a NYC tabloid reporter named Rebekah Roberts. And Rebekah isn’t sure she wants her mother back in her life.
But when a man from the ultra-Orthodox conclave of Roseville, NY contacts Rebekah about his young wife’s mysterious death, she is drawn back into Aviva’s world. Pessie Goldin’s body was found in her bathtub, and while her parents want to believe it was an accident, her husband is certain she was murdered.
Once she starts poking around, Rebekah encounters a whole society of people who have wandered “off the path” of ultra-Orthodox Judaism – just like her mother. But some went with dark secrets, and rage at the insular community they left behind.
In the sequel to her Edgar Award finalist Invisible City, Julia Dahl has created a taut mystery that is both a window into a secretive culture and an exploration of the demons we inherit.
My review: I read the first novel in this series, Invisible City, last year and reviewed it here. I was greatly impressed by Dahl’s writing and the world she created on the page, not to mention her tightly woven plot.
I’m happy to say that this second novel in the series does not disappoint. Starting not long after the tumultuous events that took place at the end of Invisible City, we find Rebekah recovering, avoiding her newly discovered mother’s phone calls and working at a desk in the newsroom, rather than out on the streets as she was in Invisible City.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Invisible City was the peek into the secretive and cloistered life of the Hassidic Jew community in Brooklyn. In Run You Down, we learn even more about this lifestyle fueled by a rigid, ultra-Orthodox faith. Dahl’s protagonist is Rebekah, but we also read chapters written by Aviva that tell her back story. As Rebekah investigates the death of Pessie, the stakes are raised when she encounters white supremacists whose hatred of anyone unlike themselves seems to know no bounds. The links to her own newly discovered family add even more urgency to the situation.
Dahl writes a great mystery that keeps you guessing until the end. She manages to tell us Aviva’s story at the same time the mystery is unfolding, which could conceivably slow the pace of the novel, but in this case, propels it forward until all the stories merge into one. This is a series that, to me, is fascinating and Rebekah Roberts is a compelling protagonist.
And Dahl writes about the Hassidic Community with great respect, making them flesh and blood individuals with differing opinions who love and need and feel fear, just as everyone does. As they become more a part of Rebekah’s life, as she rejects stereotypes and sees them as unique individuals, so do we.
I really love Dahl’s mysteries, and I think you will, too.
Run You Down is being released on June 30, 2015.
About the author: Julia Dahl is a journalist specializing in crime and criminal justice. Her first novel, Invisible City, was named one of the Boston Globe’s Best Books of 2014 and was a finalist for an Edgar Award and a Mary Higgins Clark award. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and writes for CBSNews.com.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an eGalley of this book in exchange for my honest review.