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Exploring Israel in the Mystery-Thriller Book “The Clarinetist”

For anyone who is missing Israel, or has never gotten a chance to visit, author Herschel Katz’s book “The Clarinetist” is a thrilling way to traverse through the country.

The book follows Daniel Kahn, a teenage clarinet player from Montreal who has the opportunity to go to Jerusalem and play in a wind band during the summer of 1968. Along the way, he ends up getting involved in the adventure of a lifetime when he has to decipher biblical clues to find an ancient treasure in the Old City. One of the clues that Katz includes in the book is map coordinates, something he is very familiar with. 

“I worked as an urban planner for over 30 years in Israel before retiring in 2019,” he said. “Maps are a basic tool of this profession, and map coordinates as a clue to find a hidden treasure seemed like a useful device to drive the plot of the story.” 

“The Clarinetist” includes places like the Cardo in the Old City, as well as the Four Sephardic Synagogues. Readers will feel like they’re taking a tour of Jerusalem as they follow Kahn on his journey.

[Kahn] ends up getting involved in the adventure of a lifetime when he has to decipher biblical clues to find an ancient treasure in the Old City.

“I’ve traveled to many places in Israel, both for work and for pleasure, and I made a point of including some of these sites in my novel,” said Katz. “This way, many people who have visited Israel and who have read my book have a personal identification with the story.”

Katz’s background in urban planning wasn’t the only inspiration for his novel, which is the first in his Daniel Kahn mystery-thriller trilogy. Like his title character, he is also from Montreal, and he plays the clarinet.

“As a teen, I played the clarinet in my high school band,” he said. “I have tried to convey, through the humorous antics of the teen characters portrayed in this novel, the fun I had playing this instrument, especially on band trips.”

Today, Katz plays the clarinet in a wind band in Jerusalem. “The amusing description of the Jewish WWII veterans’ wind band in London described by one of the players in my book, [which is] ‘We play for the hearing impaired and the deaf … the way we sound and the way they hear, it’s a perfect match!’ can be said about the band in which I now play.”

Along with going on an exciting adventure with Kahn, readers can learn facts about Israel they might have never heard previously. For instance, Katz writes about the reaction of religious families whose daughters decide to serve in the IDF, as well as these girls’ methods of coping, and Israeli youths who fled to India after their army service during the Six Day War in 1967 and their descent into cults and drugs. It also touches upon the tradition of “kidnapping” young Jewish Kavkazi girls by other Jewish Kavkazi families for the purpose of marrying their sons, which was seen as a badge of honor for these girls. 

“Some of these issues that took place in the 1960s are still relevant today,” said Katz.

The author hopes that readers enjoy the fast-paced “The Clarinetist,” and they’ll want to see what Kahn gets into in the second book in the series, “The Ninth Terrorist.” Currently, Katz is working on the third installment, “Crossmyloof And Hope To Die,” which will be available in the coming months. 

Katz believes that when reading “The Clarinetist,” people will learn new things that will fascinate them. 

He said, “I’d like my readers to think that there are a lot of different aspects about Israel and Judaism they may not have come across before reading ‘The Clarinetist,’ which will make this novel interesting for them.”

Source: Jewish Journal

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