They are called Orna, Emilia and Ella: one, two, three women who will cross in Tel Aviv the way to Guil, a man with an ordinary appearance, hands a little soft, more connected to the zero Coke than to the alcohol, a libido not really unleashed, two high school girls and a profession of lawyer which pushes him to travel in the countries of the East, in particular in Warsaw and Bucharest.
Orna is a teacher and mother of a fragile nine-year-old child. She keeps a stubborn grudge against her ex-husband who abandoned her for a German girl who already has four children and finds herself pregnant with him, they live in Kathmandu where they run an inn and Orna feels that the father is moving away from her son, which pushes her to redouble her attentions for the child. She met Guil on a dating site for divorced people and she liked his chocolatey scent. The man does not make her climb the curtains but she needs to be loved so much that she lets herself be taken on this story without really realizing it.
Emilia is a young Latvian refugee who barely speaks Hebrew. She works as a caregiver and is attached to the old man in her charge. Except that he dies and that she finds herself destitute. So she contacts the son of her former employer, who is none other than Guil. She too needs attention, he’s going to be the man for the job.
Ella is married and happy in a household, but she needs to isolate herself to write her thesis and goes to a cafe each morning to write. One day, she meets the eyes of a man who smiles at her. Guil, of course. At this stage of reading, we already know what happened to Orna and Emilia, so we shudder for Ella.
A specialist in the history of the detective story, Dror Mishani has a very gentle way of creating suspense. We like his fluid writing that takes us to areas of Tel Aviv less known than the seaside and in the daily lives of women who Israeli society mistreats or rejects. Brilliantly constructed, its intrigue rises in strength over the chapters until it takes us by the throat when we least expect it.
One two Three by Dror Mishani, translated from Hebrew by Laurence Sendrowicz, Série Noire (Gallimard), 329 pp, 19 euros.