The Yiddish Policemen's Union

  • Type: Books
  • By: Michael Chabon
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Suspense
  • Recommended by: Andy B.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780007149827
  • Check Catalog

A murder mystery unravels in an Alaskan Jewish homeland that never was

Michael Chabon’s genre-bending novel is set in a world that never was, when the Federal District of Sitka was created in Alaska by the federal government in 1941 to offer refuge to European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. 60 years later, Sitka is being dissolved and Meyer Landsman is a homicide detective trying to solve one last case before it’s gone.

Since this is a Michael Chabon book, it has richly drawn characters like the aforementioned Landsman, an alcoholic detective who has fallen far from his perch as the sharpest investigator in Sitka and his partner Berko Shemets, a half-Tlingit, half-Jewish man who literally embodies the tensions that have run through Sitka for its entire existence.  

Landsman has to navigate the reversion of Sitka, a murder that runs him up against a sect of Hasidic Jews that run organized crime in Sitka, his ex-wife becoming his new boss, and his penchant for self-destruction. Tying it all together is chess, a game fraught with emotional and familial history for Landsman. If this sounds like the strangest hard-boiled detective novel you’ve ever read, you’re not wrong, but it all comes together in a beautiful, satisfying package that delivers for both fans of the genre and those looking for something different.