Invisible City is the first book in the Rebekah Roberts mystery series. It was written by Julia Dahl. I listened to it on audio and it was narrated by Andi Arndt, who did an excellent job. I really enjoyed this book. It's been nominated for several mystery awards this year, all in the 'Best First Novel' category - the Anthony, the Barry, the Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Thriller award. You can find a listing of all these awards on the wonderful website, Stop You're Killing Me. I read this book partly because my mystery book group is reading award nominated/winning books for June and this one qualifies completely!
Rebekah Roberts is a stringer for a New York tabloid newspaper. She never knows where she will be sent by her editors, but she does know that she's expected to get the quotes and the facts. On this day, Rebekah is sent to a crime scene where a dead woman has been discovered mostly buried under a pile of scrap metal. The Brooklyn location is in the midst of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. Rebekah, who grew up in Florida and has not been in New York all that long, has a connection to this community that she has not shared with her editors.
Many years ago, Rebekah's mother, a Hasidic Jewish woman, met her father, a Christian, at a New York bookstore. They fell in love and had Rebekah. Very soon afterwards, Rebekah's mother left to return to her family and conservative religious life, never seeing her daughter again. Rebekah wanted to come to New York to be a newspaper reporter, but she's also drawn to the idea of finding her mother's roots and perhaps even the woman herself.
As she pursues leads in her story, Rebekah is taken aback to find out that the murdered woman's case is not being investigated very carefully by the NYPD. The relationship between the police and the closed conservative Hasidic community is complicated. Crimes are often not reported or only reported to an internal security group. Religious tradition maintains that an autopsy not be performed and burial happens extremely quickly. Rebekah wonders how much evidence has been lost and so she asks more and more questions. And she finds allies and enemies in her hunt. Secrets are everywhere. A murderer is aware of Rebekah and her questions; she's an outsider and not very welcome...and in danger.
I liked the character of Rebekah and her friends as well. She's a character who is just beginning to find out how much she wants to know more of her mother's world. She has anxiety that she deals with and a job that puts lots of stress on her. I felt fairly anxious myself just listening to her deal with her editors and bosses. I'll look forward to her character developing more as the series continues. The crime and mystery itself was not terribly complicated, but there was a good amount of information about the very sheltered Hasidic community and the traditions and norms that the women especially have to deal with. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Run You Down, which will be published on June 30th. All in all, a good start to a new series.