“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
If my last book had taken me to Afghanistan, the war-torn country with rich culture and diversity, Optimal Exposure took me to Israel and then back to India with a classic detective/whodunnit story. Most of us heard about Kumbh Mela and the related news about its participants who run into millions. What happens when an elderly photographer is found dead amidst the crowd? What and who would help him out, if at all? Sounds intriguing? Then Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel is the book for you.
Author: Dan Rogel
Characters: Boaz and Ephraim Lavie, Superintendent Shemesh, Inspector Hagit Butler
Setting: Israel, India
Disclaimer: Thanks to the B00k R3vi3ws for the free copy of the book.
The story begins with Boaz Lavie completing his seven day mourning period following the death of his father Ephraim, a photographer who was brought dead from India where he had been on a photography trip. The case attracts the attention of Superintendent Shemesh and Inspector Hagit Butler, as they realize this was the second time a fellow photographer was carried home dead by the same group following such an expedition and they start to dig into the cases, inspired by Boaz’s interest. In both cases the local authorities, namely Indians and Brazilians, had given a clean chit to the deaths and cause were as heart attack declared by their doctors.
Boaz was quite close to his father and he cannot fathom the circumstances leading to his death, until he starts digging into his computer and his universe of photography. He understands the financial benefit that people could gain out of these photography contests and that his father had dealt with a few minor rifts with the the contest results, just before he left to the expedition to Kumbmela, India. Who, why and how they murdered the photographers forms the part the rest of the story.
It had been so long that I read about Jews and their customs and this story set in Israel was a welcome change. And added to that the party visits India, my place of birth making it doubly pleasurable to read and understand how things work with authorities here. Kudos to the author for keeping the photographic jargon pretty simple to layman, yet the descriptive language and the writing style was a little hard to get used to. The murders and their modi operandi were interesting, and I could not guess the murderers until the very end. I found the narration part of Hagit very annoying and her desire to please her partner Shemesh seemed too filmy for my taste. The last chapter which was supposed to be the one that solves the ‘whodunnit’ was too long and one could even get away reading it instead of the entire novel.
Looking for a book that takes you across countries on a murder chase? Go grab Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel.