Cover image for Murder duet : a musical case
Murder duet : a musical case
Gur, Batya.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Merḥaḳ ha-nakhon. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
433 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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In this, Batya Gur's long-awaited fourth mystery, the intelligent and charming Israeli policeman Michael Ohayon once again becomes involved in a murder investigation set in a richly evocative Israeli milieu. This time we find ourselves following the strains of the Israeli classical music world.

As the novel begins Ohayon is about to push Play on his CD player to listen to a beloved recording of Brahms's First Symphony. Feeling lonely but assured in his decision to spend the evening alone, he hears what sounds like a baby crying. And indeed, in a stairwell just outside his door in a small cardboard box is a real live baby, wailing furiously. This event leads to his meeting a neighbor, Nita van Gelden, who is a single mother, a cellist, and part of an extended family of internationally known musicians. Nita's brother Theo is a famous conductor, her brother Gabriel a violinist, their father the owner of a prestigious music store. When a member of this illustrious family is murdered, Ohayon becomes involved with the investigation.

From the first strains of Brahms to the newly discovered sheet music for an unknown requiem, Murder Duet unfolds at an allegro pace. Lovers of crime novels, as well as music aficionados, will thrill to every dulcet note.

Author Notes

Batya Gur teaches literature at a Jerusalem high school and is a book critic for the Israeli newspaper Ha-Aretz. She has written several murder mysteries, only one of which has been translated into English.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gur's previous Michael Ohayon novels have taken the introspective Jerusalem policeman inside three distinctly insular worlds: those of the psychiatrist, the literary critic, and the kibbutznik. The pattern holds in this long-awaited fourth installment in the superb series. This time Ohayon enters the world of classical music, but he does so without the piercing objectivity he was able to bring to his other cases. The murder victims are the father and brother of a woman, cellist Nita van Gelden, with whom Ohayon shares an intimate, though platonic, friendship, and the timing of the crimes threatens to upset Ohayon's plan to adopt an abandoned baby he has discovered in his apartment building. As Ohayon probes the van Gelden family, all of whose members are celebrated musicians, his relationship with Nita teeters, and his chances of being allowed to keep the baby dwindle. As always, Gur writes with great psychological insight and remarkable sensitivity, this time forcing her hero to confront the polarities of his personality: his overwhelming drive to ferret out cause and effect in the external world, on the one hand, and his obsessive need for personal privacy, on the other. Here, in order to solve the case, he must violate the privacy of someone he loves, and in so doing, allow his own world to be invaded. With a "heavy boot intruding on his private vulnerabilities," Ohayon plunges ahead, unraveling how the discovery of an unknown Vivaldi requiem unleashed a lethal mix of jealousy, greed, and familial rivalry. Numerous crime novelists have used classical music as a theme, but Gur has managed more effectively than any other to integrate musical matters into the fabric of the story. From the foreboding opening notes of Brahms' First Symphony, which Ohayon plays in the novel's first scene, through Nita's brother's discussion of the classical style, the "music-saturated air" informs the novel's substance as powerfully as it does its atmosphere. A virtuoso performance. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

The lives of classical musicians are the focus of the latest entry in Gur's admirable series featuring Israeli Chief Superintendent Michael Ohayon (Murder on a Kibbutz, etc.). A divorc‚ with one adult child, Michael is returning to work after a two-year study leave, and his life is empty and lonely. So when an abandoned baby girl appears on his doorstep, he turns to his upstairs neighbor, a single mother and cellist named Nita van Gelden, for help. Nita belongs to a close-knit family of prominent musicians and music lovers. Her brother Theo is an internationally known conductor; another brother, Gabriel, is a violinist; and her father, Felix, is the owner of a famed music shop. When Nita's father is murdered, Michael faces a dilemma: he wants to lead the investigation, but he's afraid his growing affection for Nita will interfere with his inquiry, which involves the possible discovery of a previously unknown Vivaldi requiem. Gur's small group of suspects live in an insular world devoted to classical music, and she excels at exploring their psychological motivations in her long, complex tale. Relief from the preoccupation with composers is found in Gur's touching portrait of Michael and Nita's obsession with the babies they care for. Though Gur constructs her plot carefully, the novel is most memorable for its abundant digressions on music history and the musical life. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved