At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Somers tagged five detective novels featuring "oddballs who will satisfy your yen for mystery and your yen for surprisingly creative worlds," including:
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael ChabonRead about another entry on the list.
This fantastic novel is an alternative history novel, and what truly sets it apart from just about every novel ever written is how well it’s constructed. The alternative timeline, wherein Israel is destroyed in 1948 and a temporary Jewish settlement in Alaska becomes the Jewish state (something that almost happened) is simultaneously subtle and ambitious in scope. Add in a mystery that’s well-constructed just as a mystery, a long list of creative and fascinating characters (and genius riffs on one of the world’s most musical languages, Yiddish), and you’ve got a tremendous book that also happens to be an oddball detective novel.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union is among J.D. Taylor's ten top counter-factual novels and Molly Driscoll's top six alternate-history novels.