Three is the story a trio of women and one sociopathic killer. It is set in Israel — where award-winning crime fiction writer D.A. Mishani lives and works — but could be situated in almost any urban setting as it has nothing to do with religious battles, land claims, war, peace or politics.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/9/2020 (242 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Three is the story a trio of women and one sociopathic killer. It is set in Israel — where award-winning crime fiction writer D.A. Mishani lives and works — but could be situated in almost any urban setting as it has nothing to do with religious battles, land claims, war, peace or politics.

Mishani is a screenwriter and author of numerous works of crime fiction, including an award-winning detective series that has been translated into more than 20 languages.

This new novel, skillfully translated from Hebrew into English by Jessica Cohen, is both eerie and effective. It is subtle, suspenseful, evenly paced, well plotted, and carefully constructed in such a way as to keep readers wondering, worrying and guessing from its beginning right to its end.

The character-driven novel introduces three complex women, each one of whom is fully imagined by Mishani without any resort to stereotype or caricature.

Orna is a high school teacher and devoted single mother reeling from her husband’s abandonment and recent divorce. Emilia is a lonely, church-going Latvian elder-care worker in Israel on a work visa, and Ella a harried mother and PhD student, seemingly unsatisfied by the banality and routine of her life.

Of the three, Orna’s narrative garners the most attention, Emilia’s story is the most captivating and Ella’s situation — although it makes up the third and final section of the book — is the least engaging.

The women never meet and, in fact, share little in common except for their proximity to the Holon area of Tel-Aviv, their general restlessness and their casual acquaintanceship of a man named Gil.

Gil, presumably, is a mild-mannered, well-off, reasonably attractive lawyer in his early 50s whom Orna meets on a dating site for divorcees, Emilia seeks out for legal advice regarding her visa status and Ella befriends in a neighbourhood coffee shop. Gil, they eventually learn, harbours his share of lies and secrets, but because all three of the women do as well, his half-truths and evasions don’t immediately trigger any suspicion or alarms.

Instead, Mishani manages to intensify the suspense from page to page, creating doubt, dropping hints, and seamlessly challenging readers to guess what is to come, what crime will be committed, how it will occur, why it will occur, and who the victims and perpetrator will be.

Fans of crime fiction likely will read this novel purely for entertainment, but readers new to the genre might consider it a cautionary tale. For whether Mishani meant it to or not, this disturbing, gripping novel will serve for many as an admonition of sorts.

Remember to always let someone who cares about you know where you are going, who you are with, and when you expect to be home — especially if you’re going out of town.

Sharon Chisvin is a Winnipeg writer.