Book Review: Invisible City – Julia Dahl

Invisible City coverTitle: Invisible City
Author: Julia Dahl
ISBN: 9781250043399
Pages: 304
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Minotaur
Genre: Mystery, Cultural Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Rebekah Roberts is a reporter working in New York City, and she’s  intrigued when she’s assigned to cover the murder of an Orthodox Hasidic Jewish woman, the wife of a prominent community leader. Rebekah’s mother was from this community, but since she left her family soon after Rebekah was born, Rebekah has been curious to learn more about them. But there are difficult truths about this insular community, ones that Rebekah will have to accept if she’s ever going to learn the truth about the murder and the truth about herself.

Snapshot Review:

Dahl artfully balances between culture, character development, and plot in this brainy murder mystery.

Full Review:

Invisible City is an excellent mystery novel that features an inquisitive and well-written main character in Rebekah. Rebekah isn’t quite sure of herself when the novel begins. She’s new to her reporting job and when she discovers that the murder involves the Hasidic Jewish community, it really throws her off. Rebekah’s been curious about this community for a long time. Dahl does a great job bringing Rebekah’s personal history into play with the murder mystery; she’s an outsider because she’s not really familiar with the customs, yet at the same time she’s not because of her mother. This gives her a unique viewpoint when it comes to the murder investigation.

Rebekah (and the reader) is unnerved by what she discovers about the Orthodox community in Invisible City. Dahl does a great job with balance in this area of the novel; she respects the culture, but doesn’t shy away from the harsher aspects of it. It serves as a fascinating entry into a subculture that few of us are really familiar with because the community is so insular. Readers who enjoy cultural reads will delight in this city-within-a-city aspect of the novel.

The murder mystery is also very well done in Invisible City. It keeps the reader interested, but it doesn’t move at lightning speed. This is a good thing, as there is sufficient time for serious character development and exploration of the Hasidic community. Dahl does a great job balancing between culture, characters, and plot; as a result, this is an intriguing book that readers should absolutely consider. It appears to be the first in a series, and I already can’t wait for the second installment, to see what Rebekah ends up doing next.

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  1. trish422 says:

    I very, very rarely read mystery novels, but you have me curious with the city-within-the-city idea. I do love that.

  2. I’m curious to read this one now. Great review!

  3. Amie Lout says:

    This one looks really great. I am in need of another really good mystery read, just finished Shadows of Doubt by Mell Corcoran, is her site for info. It was fantastic, and I recommend it and her. Dahl’s book looks so good, I am going to get it right now!


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