Murder on a Kibbutz

Gur, Batya. Murder on a Kibbutz: a Communal Case. Translated by Dalya Bilu. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991. Once again Gur fills her mystery with an overload of characters. This time I was armed with a notebook to keep everyone straight right from the beginning. Are you ready for this? Here is the cast of Murder on a Kibbutz:

  • Aaron Meroz – outsider, absorbed by kibbutz, divorced, has been gone from kibbutz for 22 years, returned 8 years ago for a funeral, grew up with Osnat, had a one night stand with her, left kibbutz to pursue law school but has remained a member of the Education Committee, has 2 children; got involved with Osnat (again) right before her death
  • Ahinoam – ?
  • Albert – Simcha’s disabled husband
  • Alex – in charge of work roster; former security
  • Ami – Michael Ohayon’s brother-in-law
  • Amit – Moish’s 2nd son
  • Andre Kestenbaum – medical examiner
  • Arik – Shula’s husband
  • Ariyeh Levy – Jerusalem Subdivision chief
  • Arnon – 7 years old, Aaron’s son
  • Asaf – ?
  • Avidor – author, organizer
  • Avigail – police; former registered nurse on kibbutz
  • Avishai – small child
  • Ben – ?
  • Benny – police
  • Ben Yaakof – butcher
  • Dr. Ben Zakkan – on vacation
  • Bezalel – friend of Srilke
  • Boaz – married to Tova
  • Bracha – patient in infirmary (mentioned twice)
  • Bruria – in charge of laundry
  • Chilik – ?
  • Commander Shmerling – Investigations Division officer
  • Dafna – Aaron’s ex-wife
  • Dana – ?
  • Danny Balilty – police
  • Dave – middle aged bachelor from Canada, volunteer; invented the cream made from cacti;
  • Deddie – ?
  • Ditza – Ilan T’s wife
  • Dvorka – Osnat’s mother-in-law
  • Dr. Gilboa – works at Barzilai hospital
  • Dr. Cassuto – toxicologist
  • Dr. Eli Reimer – away for 5 weeks for army reserve duty
  • Dr. Hildesheimer – character in previous novel
  • Dr. Hirsh – director of Institute of Pathological Medicine
  • Eitan Avidor – Avidor’s son; dead
  • Elhanan “JoJo” – kibbutz treasurer
  • Eli – police
  • Elka – former head of education committee
  • Elroi – police psychologist
  • Emanuel Shorer – head of Criminal Investigation Unit
  • Esther – Avigail’s aunt; nurse; dead
  • Estie – ?
  • Fanya – head of sewing (mentioned twice), concentration camp survivor, has 2 kids
  • Fela – Nira’s mother
  • Felix – elderly patient at infirmary; artist; has 4 children
  • Froike – ?
  • Gady – Felix’s second son; a whistler
  • Gila – Levy’s secretary
  • Golda – Moish’s housemother
  • Guta – Fanya’s sister, in charge of dairy, concentration camp survivor; always eats lunch late
  • Hadas – left kibbutz and is living in U.S.
  • Hannah Shpitzer – Zeev HaCohen’s 2nd wife, committed suicide
  • Havaleh – gossiper
  • Haviva – ?
  • Hayuta – ?
  • Herzl – ?
  • Hilik – examines the electrical cables for refrigeration
  • Ilan T – artist
  • Jacques – Michael Ohayon’s uncle (mother’s brother), dead
  • Jeannette Abukasi – ?
  • Kochava Strauss – sergeant
  • Krestenbaum – ?
  • Limor Malul – Simcha’s 13 years old daughter
  • Lotte – class housemother (mentioned many times)
  • Machluf Levy – police; has two kids
  • Matilda – kitchen manager; talker
  • Maya – old girlfriend of Michael Ohayon’s
  • Menucha – ?
  • Michael Ohayon* – member of Serious Crimes Unit
  • Mickey – ?
  • Miriam – Moish’s mother (dead)
  • Misha – secretary for a different kibbutz
  • Moshe “Moish” Ayal – kibbutz director
  • Mottie Malul – 12 year old, troubled son of Simcha
  • Nahari – ?
  • Nehama – Fanya’s daughter, moved away, married
  • Nire – Michael Ohayon’s ex-wife
  • Noga – ?
  • Nora – Felix’s wife
  • Oded – Yacheved’s son
  • Ohad/Ilan – Avigail’s affair
  • Osnat Harel* – has 4 children, was married to Yuvik, kibbutz secretary (reminded of that twice), needed privacy even as a child
  • Pazit – 10 years old, Aaron’s son
  • Rachela – 24 yr old
  • Rifka Maimoni (“Rickie”) – infirmary nurse
  • Rinat – Lotte’s daughter
  • Riva – nurse (mentioned twice); dead
  • Rella – in the poultry section
  • Rocheleh – ?
  • Ronit – asked for Valium
  • Ruthie – ?
  • Sarit – coordinator of the Special Investigation Team; nail biter, only other woman on police force
  • Shlomit – Osnat’s daughter
  • Shmiel – in the poultry section; friend of Srulke
  • Shula – Moish’s sister; work-roster organizer; had gastric flu
  • Simec – Guta’s husband
  • Simcha Malul – mother to Mottie, 5 other children (1 stillborn), 49 years old, grandmother, works in kibbutz infirmary
  • Srulke – Moish’s father, hates waste, dies
  • Tova – Zeev HaCohen’s daughter; married to Boaz
  • Tzilla – police
  • Uri – currently abroad
  • Uri – driver for Misha
  • Victor – ?
  • Yaela – rumored to be Felix’s daughter
  • Yaffa – ?
  • Yankele – Fanya’s son, violent, works in controversial cosmetics factory; Dave is his only friend
  • Yacheved – Oded’s mother
  • Yedidya – maintenance man; could be Yaela’s father
  • Yehuda – Dvorka’s “mate”; external secretary
  • Yehuda Nahari – Brigadier General; head of National Union for Serious Crimes Investigation (NUSCI)
  • Yoav – Osnat’s son; a soldier
  • Yocheved – ?
  • Yoel – artist
  • Yoopie – writes skits; in charge of gardening shed
  • Yoska – driver for Avigail
  • Yuval Ohayon – Michael Ohayon’s son
  • Yuvik – Osnat’s husband, Dvorka’s son (died in Lebanon war)
  • Yuzek – Nira’s father
  • Yvette – Michael Ohayon’s older sister
  • Zacharia – Fanya’s husband
  • Zahara – Felix’s daughter
  • Zeev HaCohen – tall, old, has a daughter
  • Zvika – working on a project for children
  • Zvikie – requested to take a course in London & was denied

(* = main character; ? = name was mentioned only once)

But, back to the plot. This time Michael Ohayon must solve a mysterious death on the kibbutz. The secretary for the commune was poisoned. Before Michael comes on the scene you learn that the 50 year old kibbutz has been going through some controversial changes. Meetings are now televised so that members can “attend” in their rooms. There is a new open-air theater. Outsiders are being hired to help in the infirmary & fields. What used to be plum fields are now for cacti grown for the cosmetic factory where many kibbutz members work. But, probably the biggest change is the one yet to come. There is talk of creating a separate house for the elderly members of the kibbutz. For years there has always been a sleeping house for children and a house for adults. The elderly have never been separated before. Osnat, the murder victim, was spearheading this change. As for Michael Ohayon, he is still the coffee addicted lonely investigator. Having broken up with Maya he now sets his romantic heart on a colleague. I have a feeling the next book is going to be very interesting. If I only I could keep the characters straight!

Reason read: to continue the series started in March in honor of it being the best time to visit Israel.

Favorite lines, “Fatal words that fester in the mind and can never be forgotten” (p 35) and “Ugly things were hidden under every word” (p 200).

Sentence that made me laugh out loud, “…stress makes rabbits seem dangerous” (p 217). Did anyone else think of Monty Python?
Author fact: Last time I reported Gur died in 2005. She was 57 and died from cancer.

Book trivia: This is the third Michael Ohayon mystery. I have a total of five on my reading list. Confessional: I read one out of order so I only have one more to read.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Crime is a Globetrotter: Israel” (p 61).



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