When was the last time a Montreal Jewish author ventured west of Avenue du Parc to write a novel about his home town? Has the Town of Mount Royal, Hampstead or Cote St. Luc ever been used as a backdrop toan ominous story? For those who have grown up in one of these sedate garden suburbs, it would be unimaginable to write about murder and mayhem coming from these areas of Montreal. But Herschel Katz, from the Town of Mount Royal, now living in Israel,leads the reader on a journeyof intrigue and danger in his mystery-thriller ‘The Clarinetist’.His story begins innocently in Montreal and continues menacingly in Jerusalem before returning home for the final coup de grace.
This novel follows the exploits of Danny Kahn, a teenage clarinet prodigy who earns a scholarship to play in a youth wind band in Jerusalem during the summerof 1968, one year after the Six Day War. The protagonist is also an amateur sleuth who displays his detective skills, first as a game to impress his girlfriend, then more seriously as a private investigator to discover and decipher cryptic biblical clues leading to an ancient treasure buried somewhere in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Along the way, he encounters a series a sinister characters: first, an Israeli émigré femme fatale in Montreal, who sends him on a fateful mission to deliver a key to her friend in Jerusalem. This friend ends up as a cadaver in a funeral procession passing in front of Danny’s taxi as he is entering Jerusalem for the first time.Then there is his girlfriend’s father who is a Mafia lawyer involved in some shady operations and and attempts to intimidate Danny to spill the beans about the activities of his late father who may have may been spying on him. But most ominously, he runs afoul of an Israeli drug trafficker and gun runner who is out for blood when his cocaine and weapons delivery is upset by Danny’s intervention.
For those who enjoy reading fast paced stories, this book fits the bill. The author’s deliberate use of short sentences alongwith cut and thrust dialogue,rivets the readers attention. This writing style also illustrates the swift thought process of ourteenage sleuth given more to action and less to reflection.
Young adults will be able to identify with this teen hero who is eager to help, knows right from wrong and is loyal to his friends and family. However, like any teenager, he can be sarcastic, sometimes impetuous and always good at telling whoppers, making him think his nose is going to grow! Older readers will also enjoy this bookas the story line is sophisticated enough to maintain interest to the end.
As a first time author, Herschel Katz has written about what he knows. He played the clarinet in high school and the shenanigans of his classmates on band trips many years ago are recounted hilariously through some of the lunatic characters in the youth orchestra of his book. Today, he continues to play in a tone deaf and arthritic fingered wind band which he also alludes to, quite humorously, in this story.
According to his bio on the book jacket, Herschel Katz worked as an urban planner in Jerusalem. His professional eye provides the reader with a virtual tour of the Old City as it was, just after its liberation in 1967, especially the area surrounding the Cardo and the Four Sephardi Synagogues, where the cryptic clues of his treasure hunt lead him.
Despite his tenure of thirty-five years as a Jerusalem resident, the author still has Montreal blood coursing through his veins. Why else would he allude to BMW, bus-Metro-walk, as his mode of transportation?
Whether you come from Montreal or Metulla, you will enjoy ‘The Clarinetist’.You can happily read it’s three hundred pages on the plane next time you fly to Israel.
With the availability of print-on-demand publishers, ‘The Clarinetist’ is a self-published book currently available directly from the author for $12.99. It should be digitally available online very soon. To purchase the book contact the author directly by email at Katz1401@gmail.com.
Thumbnail:This action packed mystery-thriller hooks the reader, tracking the exploits of a gutsy teenage sleuth who follows a set of cryptic biblical clues in the hunt for a missing ancient treasure in post Six Day War Montreal and Jerusalem. The author displays a unique talent for weaving a series of intricate storylines and tying up all the threads neatly at the end.