Julia Dahl's debut novel, Invisible City, wraps a well-plotted mystery in the setting of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, N.Y. The result is a fast-paced, smart novel of murder, journalistic ethics and religion.
Rebekah Roberts, a young journalist, moves to New York City fresh out of college to look for one thing: a job as a big-city reporter. Though Rebekah strikes out at the large papers, she lands a job as a stringer for the New York Tribune, a tabloid-like local rag. When Rebekah is sent to cover the murder of a Hasidic woman, she is shocked to discover how insular this community is--so much so that the murdered woman's body is buried without an autopsy and with little inquiry into her death. But she also finds herself learning more about her own mother, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who left Rebekah and her father to return to her religious community when Rebekah was a newborn.
As Invisible City unfolds and Rebekah pushes for more information about the crime, Dahl weaves together Rebekah's own story, including her battles with anxiety and questions about her mother, with a broader exploration of the Hasidim. Dahl comes to fiction with a background as a crime and criminal justice journalist, and it shows; crisp dialogue and a strong sense of intrigue keep Invisible City moving forward to the very end. Though the mystery may be resolved, readers are left with enough questions to leave them anticipating more of Rebekah Roberts' story--good news for all, as a sequel is underway.
Invisible City | Julia Dahl | Minotaur | Hardcover | May 2014