The Butcher’s Theater

Kellerman has sacrificed some of the graceful prose of his previous novels for a hard-hitting portrayal of an evil killer in the holiest of cities, Jerusalem. The result is riveting. Even the careful description of police procedure, which in the hands of a lesser writer can bog down a plot, advances the action in unexpected ways. Through it the reader comes to understand the personalities of Sharavi’s team, three Jews of diverse origins, one Arab Christian, and Sharavi himself. All the men are shaped by the constant need for vigilance against terrorists, but only once before have they had to deal with a serial killer. Moreover, the labyrinthine workings of the Israeli bureaucracy conspire almost from the beginning to impede Sharavi’s case.

The dogged Israeli, however, will not quit. He is a survivor of the 1967 War and the Butcher’s Theater, a violent area around Jerusalem which has cost many lives. The serial killer, nicknamed “the Butcher,” has turned Jerusalem into his own kind of theater, and has become, to the more superstitious members of the local populace, a demon larger than life. Mid-way through the investigation an anonymous letter is received by a reporter that casts the murders in a religious and ethnic light, and the factions ignite. Sharavi’s case takes on new significance: He must catch the serial killer before his beloved city again becomes a battleground.

An entire United Nations hospital staff, a Christian monk...

(The entire section is 426 words.)