It begins when the strangely marked body of a young prostitute is found just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. A similarly disfigured corpse of an American nun turns up. Then an Arab boy. As the list of victims grows, their only apparent connection is the bizarre markings on their bodies, it appears that Israel is facing its first serial murder case.
David Bar-Lev, chief of the Pattern Crimes Unit of the Jerusalem police, is not so sure. A tough yet sensitive investigator with a powerful intelligence and a querying mind, he begins searching for a pattern that will explain the apparently random killings. At first the disorder is overwhelming, the case unfathomable. But then, as David probes deeper into this particular pattern crime, he is not so sure he wants to understand it. Pieces emerge that suggest that this time the key may lie within his own life. During the course of his investigation he must uncover and confront many painful secrets:
The mysterious behavior of his father, Avraham, a retired psychoanalyst;
The tragic suicide of his brother, Gideon, a talented fighter pilot;
The hidden past of his beautiful Russian lover, the cellist Anna;
And the possibility of corruption within the Jerusalem police and the ultra-secret General Security Services (Shin Bet).
But despite the pain of these and other revelations, David probes on until he finally glimpses his astonishing solution - for, as one cop says of David Bar-Lev, "It is not enough for him to investigate. David has to understand."
The Jerusalem of Pattern Crimes is not the idealized Holy City of the guidebooks. Depicted as the capital of an angry, anguished, torn-up nation, a city of prostitutes, narcotics dealers, lusting journalists, ruthless politicians, and zealots of every stripe, it becomes here an arena for a remarkable story of crime and punishment.
This is a book about patterns – in love, in relationships, in politics, in art, in death. And always at the center is David Bar-Lev, one of the most memorable characters in recent crime fiction, relentlessly searching for the pattern that will unlock his case - the pattern he must uncover in order to clarify his vision… of himself, his family, and the country that he loves.
With Pattern Crimes, William Bayer raises the detective novel to a new level of excellence. In the best-selling tradition of his previous novel, Switch, he has created a powerful story of psychological suspense and one of the strongest, most intriguing novels of recent years.
"William Bayer has the reader panting to keep up with the pace he sets in ‘Pattern Crimes.’ The novel’s virtues: its intriguing intellectual hero, the multi-layered humanity he encounters in his investigations, and his fascinating observations on a Jerusalem no casual tourist gets to see." (The New York Times)
"Bayer has got the real stuff: a pounding narrative line; real people you can identify with; dialogue that snaps with authority even as it advances the exposition; a riveting sense of locale. Bayer is the new king of the crime fiction heap. At a minimum he has written one unputdownable book." (San Francisco Examiner)
"A richly dramatic and thoughtful police procedural, a sort of ‘Gorky Park’ set in Jerusalem. Provocative and intelligent entertainment." (Kirkus Reviews)
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This book has a lot going on and really moves along, which was such a relief, given that the locale had considerable potential for mouldering into religiosity. Normally I don't even like Dick Hill's performing style, but it seemed to work well this time. I think he must have become so absorbed in the story that his reading swept along with a smoother tread than usual. However . . . apparently this was the second book in the "foreign detective" series, and now I've had to buy a Kindle to get the first one. I don't like to visually read things (bad eyes) so had to get a Kindle that's supposed to be able to read text; but that's not the same as having it performed. Most of the readers these days don't just read, and often add a lot to our enjoyment. Anyway, I hope William Bayer keeps it coming!
- Candace Russell