Review: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

I finished this book last night, while struggling with an incredibly uncomfortable hotel bed. I can say without reservation that “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” was a joy to read from start to finish. From the opening page to its final sentence, it kept me hooked – which is no mean feat. 

Set in an alternate history where the USA has offered a sliver of Alaska to Europe’s disposed jews following World War 2, the story focuses on a puzzling murder. It was an alt-hist book of the best kind: the alternative history set the scene, but the story itself kept me hooked. 

And it didn’t (to my knowledge) make a single reference to one A. Hitler. A failure of many books using an alternative WWII as their starting point. 

Even if you’re not a fan of alternative history, it’s an excellent example of the noire novel – a rumpled, overweight and frankly drink-addled cop on his last legs. Trying to solve a mystery everyone else wants him to forget. 

I won’t say anything else in case I inadvertently add a spoiler. It gets my 5-star rating and I’m going to download more of Michael Chabon’s excellent stuff onto my Kindle this evening. He has an incredibly rich and lush writing style – one that instantly transports you to a sad and down at heel Alaska. The detail he adds to every scene – and every character’s back-story – is astounding. 

In fact, I think I’ll buy one now – boarding my flight back to London in just a few minutes. Another reason I love the Kindle – impulse purchasing books without worrying how heavy they’ll be to carry home!

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