The Ministry of Special Cases is a strange book. It tells the story of Kaddish and Lillian, a Jewish couple of a “fixer” and a well-born woman rejected by her family because of her marrriage, whose son disappears during Argentina’s bloody junta rule, and who then undertake an epic and unsuccessful quest for him. Some parts are full of imagination, such as the walled part of the Jewish cemetary reserved for prostitutes and pimps, or the plastic surgeon who, unable to pay Kaddish’s fee, offers him a nose job instead. Others are dreadfully familiar but moving: Lillian’s pleading with the heartless bureaucrats at the Ministry of Special cases. But overall the story is plodding and the lightness and humour of Englander’s first book, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, is lacking, alas.