Book Review: Run You Down, Julia Dahl

I received this book from NetGalley.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. Trying to convert back to reading from TV watching, frankly. It’s been glorious. Anyhow, Julia Dahl’s Run You Down caught my eye, so I requested it and I’m glad I did.

Rebekah is a reporter for the New York Tribune. She’s recently gone through a terrifying event (in book one of the series). This event is not described, just the after effects of depression and difficulty with living her life and doing her job. One day she receives a phone call asking her to investigate the death of a Jewish woman from a very conservative and orthodox (Haredi) enclave. There’s no body and no autopsy (the woman having been buried swiftly following Jewish doctrine), and no real police investigation. Since Rebekah has a history of reporting on orthodox Jewish issues, she’s contacted to find the truth.

The book is a mix of both Rebekah’s own story (and her mother’s) and the story of Pessie, the dead woman. As the story progresses, Rebekah learns that Pessie’s murder and her own story will collide in unexpected ways.

I wasn’t too sure how I was going to like the story at first. We start in Aviva’s point of view (Rebekah’s mother) and then switch chapter by chapter between Aviva and Rebekah. I was a little bit annoyed that I had to leave each person’s perspective and the two didn’t seem to be converging. So the first third or half was a little slow in some ways, though at the same time, I was rivetted by each story and wanted to stick with it. Then suddenly the two stories weave together in a necessary and compelling way and suddenly the rollercoaster starts running downhill at high speed.

The book was complex with a lot of action and the investigation felt realistic and fascinating. I thought the ending was unique and compelling. I don’t want to give spoilers, but the denoument really fit the reporter aspect and it situated this book in the larger world, making the individual stories more universal.

The book deals with a lot of various subjects taboo within the Orthodox Jewish community. Something interesting and compelling that Dahl did with Sammy and Ryan was to show how similar their extraordinarily opposite backgrounds really were and that fundamentalism of any kind can be dangerous to the soul, mind, and body. Seeing the ripples of that in Rebekah, Aviva, Saul, Isaac, and Pessie really give this story enormous depth and power. Dahl’s extensive experience as a crime reporter really inform this book in rich ways.

I give this book 5/5 stars. It’s the sequel to Invisible City, Dahl’s first book.

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