Murder Duet

Gur, Batya. Murder Duet: a Musical Case. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999.

Reason read: this is the last book I need to read to finish the Michael Ohayon series, started in March in honor of that month being the best time to visit Israel. Note: there is one last book in the series but I read it first, before I knew there was a whole series. Like the last two Gur mysteries, I am listing the characters here so that I can keep them straight.

  • Aliza – baby sitter
  • Andre Kestenbaum – medical examiner
  • Ariyeh Levy – Jerusalem Subdivision chief
  • Avigail – police; former girlfriend of Michael Ohayon
  • Avigdor – concertmaster
  • Becky Pomeranz – mother of a friend Michael had an affair
  • Carlo Maria Giulini – musician
  • Dalit – police recruit
  • Danny Balilty+ – police
  • Dora Zackheim – music teacher
  • Drora Yaffe – Theo’s fake alibi
  • Dr. Schumer –
  • Dr. Solomon – pathologist
  • Eli+ – police
  • Elroi – police psychologist
  • Emanuel Shorer+ – head of Criminal Investigation Unit
  • Even-Tor – conductor
  • Eyal – Tzilla’s child
  • Gabriel van Gelden – second murder victim
  • Ido – Nita’s five month old son
  • Irit – Izzy’s daughter
  • Itzhak Halevi – Zippo’s real name
  • Itzik – police
  • Izzy Mashiah – Gabriel’s boyfriend
  • Jacques+ – Michael Ohayon’s uncle (mother’s brother), dead
  • Jean Bonaventure – scholar of Baroque
  • Joann Schenk – German singer
  • Kochava Strauss – sergeant
  • Machluf Levy – police; has two kids
  • Malka – police
  • Margrit Fischer – musician
  • Matty Balilty – Danny’s wife
  • Maya+ – old girlfriend of Michael Ohayon’s
  • Meyuhas – lawyer
  • Michael Ohayon* – lead character; divorced 20 years; lives alone
  • Motti – police
  • Mr. van Gelden- first murder victim
  • Mrs. Agmon – violinist
  • Nurse Nehama – from the Child Welfare Bureau
  • Nira+ – Michael Ohayon’s ex-wife
  • Nita van Gelden – single mother
  • Professor Livnat – art expert
  • Rimon – childhood friend of Michael’s
  • Ronit – girl who had broken Yuval’s heart
  • Ruth Mashiah/Zellnicker – Director of the Child Welfare Bureau, Izzy’s exwife
  • Sergeant Malka – friend of Tzilla’s
  • Sara – Ethiopian babysitter
  • Shimshon – forensic investigator
  • Sima – forensics documents lab tech
  • Sonia – ?
  • Teddy Kolleck – Mayor of Jerusalem
  • Theo van Gelden – conductor; brother of Nita
  • Theodore Herzl – friend of the first murder victim
  • Tzilla+ – police
  • Van Gelden – neighbor in Michael’s apartment building
  • Yaffa+ – part of the forensic team
  • Yehudi Menvahin – ?
  • Yosefa – Tzilla’s child
  • Yuval – Dora’s student
  • Yuval Ohayon+ – Michael Ohayon’s son
  • Yvette+ – Michael Ohayon’s older sister
  • Zippo – older police officer
  • Zisowitz – orchestra manager

(* = main character; ? = name was mentioned only once, + = has been mentioned in several Gur mysteries)

So continues the murder mysteries of Israeli policeman Michael Ohayon. It has been two years since our last adventure with him. In the meantime he has been away from the force, studying law. Upon his return he becomes entangled in a murder with a family twist. Murder Duet starts with Ohayon wanting to spend a quiet holiday alone, listening to music in his apartment. His solitude is broken when he hears the cries of an infant in the basement of his apartment building. Abandoned in a cardboard box the baby girl is barely a month old and for some reason Ohayon takes it upon himself to care for the newborn. This gives Gur an opportunity to show Ohayon’s sensitive side and reveal some of his personality outside of work. After finding the baby Ohayon meets his neighbor, Nita van Gelden, and develops a relationship with her. That relationship is compromised when Nita’s father and brother are murdered and Ohayon is on the case.

Out of all the Gur mysteries I have read this one was my favorite. Even though the character list was extensive I felt it was more manageable than in previous stories. It was refreshing that not everyone had a name or detailed history. Some characters were just “young woman” or “fat Russian.” Past Gur books have included a detailed description of an autopsy. This one has a play by play of how a polygraph test works. There is no doubt Gur does her homework!

Line I liked, “When you want something, anything, so much you become easy prey to anyone” (p 82).

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



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