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Three (2020)
Book Reviews

Three (2020)

A lackluster and clunky thriller about a killer who terrorizes women that ends on a big yawn.

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It’s fascinating when people scoff at women who are worried about their personal safety in the dating world. It’s an unfortunate fact that many women can be taken advantage of when they’re merely trying to connect with someone. Award-winning Israeli author D.A. Mishaniis is known for crafting thrillers like The Missing File, A Possibility of Violence, and his newest purported spine-tingling thriller – Three – speaks to a fear that resides deep within all women: that someone they trust will harm them.

Orna meets Gil, an immigration lawyer, on a dating site. Of all the men she’s perused, he appears the most normal, something she’s been searching for after the divorce. She’s questioned whether she should date, especially after her ex-husband left her and their nine year-old son, Eran. She’s cautious when she meets Gil, unwilling to reveal much yet he’s more than happy to talk about his own divorce, the ex-wife, and his charming grown children. Lulling her into a false sense of security, Orna falls for his charms only to realize he’s not actually divorced after all.

Gil plays the long game, romancing Orna for several months. When he eventually proposes a weekend getaway to explain everything, and despite any misgivings she has, Orna agrees because he seems absolutely harmless. Little by little, Gil reveals his true self and Orna doesn’t realize her life is truly in danger until it’s too late.

Emilia, a Polish homecare nurse, is heartbroken when her charge dies. At a total loss, she scrambles to find another job that will provide her with a visa to stay in Tel Aviv. Her former charge’s wife, Esther, suggests she meet with Gil, who might be able to help her with a visa. At first, Emilia is shy around Gil but slowly starts to trust him, even helping him clean his second apartment, the one he got after his divorce. When he offers a trip to Romania, she jumps at the chance but then wakes up with a bag over her head.

Mishani’s writing is gauche and halting, as if he’s writing in a style that isn’t his. Or perhaps it’s more the translator (Jessica Cohen) who can’t achieve the same style in English. However, Mishani does attempt to emulate Haruki Murakami’s style of writing but falls flat. He changes points of view midway through and it jerks you around, dragging you through this story, regardless if you hit your head along the way.

Mishani may be known in Israel for his spectacular thrillers but unfortunately, this translation of Three leaves one feeling blasé about the whole experience. Some may feel women’s fears of being harmed by someone close to them are unfounded, but there’s too much evidence that supports the issue. Three could be a powerful message if it wasn’t for the weak-willed writing, or taking advantage of anyone who thought the cover portrayed a more exciting story within.

About the Author: Evelyn Wong