The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Michael Chabon
For the next book I read, I turned from fantasy to alternate history, in this case a slightly different world where the founding of Israel in post-war Palestine went horribly wrong, forcing the Jews to seek solace elsewhere.

In this case, we have the creation of Sitka, a Jewish settlement in part of what was formerly Alaska - ceded to its Jewish inhabitants for 60 years, the settlement is now facing up to the realities of Reversion, as control of the land and all that stands on it goes back to the people of Alaska. Not a pleasant concept for the settlement's Jewish police force or many of its inhabitants.

Our protagonist is one of those police, a detective called Meyer Landsman who lives in a rundown hotel. One of his neighbours, a junkie, is killed execution-style and Landsman and his partner, who is also his half-Jewish cousin Shemets, find themselves drawn into the middle of bizarre plots about Messiah and the prophesied return to the promised land.

The book itself is enjoyably noir, written in a very hard-boiled style peppered with plenty of Yiddish expressions, succeeding even despite how desperately unpleasant Landsman is at times. In The Yiddish Policemen's Union, his only redeeming factor seems to be a desperate need to find out the truth, no matter how many toes he treads on, and that's always a good thing for a fictional detective.