Warning: Reading this book may cause a severe case of literary whiplash.
On one page, we are in Prague, witnessing the frightening workings of a psychiatric hospital used by the communists as a political prison. Then, almost without warning the reader may be yanked into a police archive in Los Angeles, where a detective is going over unsolved murder cases, or a home of Holocaust survivors in Brooklyn, where the daughter of atheists (“God died in the camps”) is about to be introduced to Orthodox Judaism, or Paris, where a policeman is investigating a gruesome murder.
Nor is the reader on terra firma when it comes to time. With no warning, save the beginning of a new chapter, he or she is jerked from the 1950s to the ’60s, the ’80s or the new millennium and then suddenly back again.
Despite the herky-jerky nature of the plot’s flow, in retrospect I view “The Golem of Paris” as a beautifully woven tapestry, seamlessly tying together the various places and times.
It is a detective story in which police sleuth Jacob Lev displays intelligence, persistence and luck — the three most important elements of success in most endeavors. He tries to bring a serial murderer to justice. In the process, he gains a measure of revenge on the human monster who destroyed his motherís life.