CRIMINAL KABBALAH
   MYSTERY MIDRASH


JEWS AND JEWISH IDENTITY IN AMERICAN MYSTERY FICTION
A Selected Bibliography

To the popular division of mysteries into private eye, police procedural and armchair detective I wish to add three sub-categories based on Jewish identity and the role of Judaism in each mystery. To this end I have developed my own division of mysteries that is reflected in this annotated bibliography of American Jewish mystery and detective fiction. To be included in this list the main protagonist must be Jewish and the story must take place in the United States. There are three categories that you will find books listed under: Assimilated, Acculturated, and Affirmed.

The first category is the Assimilated Jewish Mystery.
As-sim-i-la-tion - the cultural absorption of a minority group into the main cultural body. In this context the Jewish characters in the following novels are, in a sense, "accidentally" Jewish.

A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z.

The second category is the Acculturated Jewish Mystery.
Ac-cul-tu-ra-tion - the mutual influence of different cultures in close contact. In this context the Jewish characters in the following novels are interested in demonstrating some aspect of their religious, cultural, or ethnic background which serves to illuminate the development of the character, or the plot.

A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z.

There is a third and smallest category of novels that I call Affirmed Jewish Mysteries.
Af-fir-ma-tion - something affirmed; positive declaration; assertion. In this context the Jewish characters in the following novels are proud of their Jewish identity and some aspect of Judaism serves to advance the plot.

A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z.

Assimilation

the cultural absorption of a minority group into the main cultural body. In this context the Jewish characters in the following novels are, in a sense, "accidentally" Jewish.

Barnes, Linda.

  • A Trouble of Fools. New York: Fawcett, 1987
  • The Snake Tattoo. New York: Fawcett, 1989
  • Coyote. New York: Dell, 1990
  • Steel Guitar. New York: Dell, 1993
  • Hardware. New York: Dell, 1996.
  • Cold Case. New York: Delacorte, 1997.
  • Barnes has created a street-tough Boston-area cabbie and private eye (Carlotta Caryle) who has a Jewish mother, and non-Jewish father and spices her dialogue with memories and "yiddishisms" from her Jewish grand-mother. A wonderfully assertive and likeable private eye.

    Bass, Milton.

  • The Bandini Affair. New York: New American Library, 1987.
  • The Belfast Connection. New York: New American Library, 1988
  • A newly-widowed San Diego Homicide Detective (Benny Freedman), who had a Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother, deals with the Mafia and other challenges in the process of solving his own identity issues. In the second novel he decides to connect with his Irish family in Belfast. What follows is a rather tedious tale caught up in the bloody fight between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

    Benjamin, Carol Lea.

  • This Dog for Hire. New York: Dell, 1996
  • The Dog Who Knew Too Much. New York: Dell, 1997.
  • A Hell of a Dog. New York: Dell, 1999.
  • Lady Vanishes. New York: Walker, 1999.
  • The Wrong Dog. New York: Walker, 2000.
  • We are introduced to an independent private eye who lives and works in Greenwich Village (Rachel Alexander) who solves the mystery with the help of her pit bull Dash. Rachel is divorced and her angst, her Jewish background, and her loneliness play help color the narrative. The authorÕs experience as a dog-trainer lends an interesting dimension to the stories.

    Benjamin, Paul.

  • Squeeze Play. New York: Penguin, 1982
  • Apparently this is the novelist Paul Auster's pen name and here he has created an interesting private investigator who was a major-league baseball player (Paul Benjamin) and now investigates a seamy part of New York city.

    Berlinski, David.

  • A Clean Sweep. New York: St. MartinÕs, 1993
  • Less Than Meets the Eye. New York, St. Martin's, 1994.
  • The Body Shop. New York: St. MartinÕs, 1996.
  • San Francisco, Berkeley and eventually University life in Northern California is the setting for a private investigator (Aaron Asherfeld) who is hired to find out who did what to whom. The development of the main character leaves something to be desired, but the setting, the intrigue and the Bay Area atmosphere make the books enjoyable to read.

    Brennan, Carol.

  • Headhunt. New York: Caroll and Graf, 1991.
  • Full Commission. New York: Caroll and Graf, 1993.
  • In the Dark. New York: Berkley, 1995
  • Chill of the Summer. New York: Putnam, 1995.
  • Brennan has given us a public relations executive (Liz Wareham), who ends up solving mysteries while working in the middle of Manhattan. Her third book introduces an actress (Emily Silver) who touches upon her half-Jewish roots and tries to solve the murder of her parents and then gets caught up in part of her late grandmother's country life. This character continues in the most recent book but the excitement of New York City life has been replaced by the more languid country existence.

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    Ceren, Sandra.

  • Prescription for Terror. Del Mar, CA: Andrew Scott, 1999.
  • A serial rapist is terrorizing San Diego and a therapist (Cory Cohen) works with the police, private detectives and friends to solve the case. While Cory makes only a passing reference to her Jewish identity, her character is a compelling one.

    Charyn, Jerome.

  • Citizen Sidel. New York: Mysterious Press, 1999.
  • The author writes in a challenging post-modern fashion and presents New York City mayor (Isaac Sidel) who stars in many previous novels. Now the mayor, former cop and Police Commissioner is running for Vice-President and needs to eradicate villains and the monsters that inhabit his own mind and the violent streets of New York to accomplish this task. Sidel is accidentally Jewish and this plays an almost non-existent role in the plot and character development.

    Coben, Harlan.

  • Deal Breaker. New York: Dell, 1995
  • Dropshot. New York: Dell, 1996
  • Face Away. New York: Dell, 1966.
  • Backspin. New York: Dell, 1997.
  • One False Move. New York: Delacorte, 1998.
  • The Final Detail. New York: Delacorte, 1999.
  • Meet an ex-basketball player, ex-FBI agent, present lawyer (Myron Bolitar) and sports agent. He lives with his parents in suburban New Jersey (in the latest novel he finally moves in with his girl-friend), drinks Yoo-Hoo and is partners with a WASP named Win who also happens to be a martial arts expert. The characters and some of the plotting are a little unbelievable and Myron has no particular interest in exploring any aspect of his Jewish identity, but if you like sports and New York, you will want to read about Myron.

    Cohen, Stephen Paul.

  • Heartless. New York: Avon, 1986.
  • Island of Steel. New York: Morrow, 1988.
  • The first book finds us in New YorkÕs Lower Eastside, trying to help an alcoholic (Eddie Margolis) find the murderer of his friend. The story leads us into drugs, real estate and much more. The second story takes place amidst the ruthless New York real estate world. There are lawyers, contractors and financiers. In the midst of this is a fledgling private eye who is a by now a recovering alcoholic and trying his best to make sense of everything going on around him. I hope that Cohen brings Margolis back again soon.

    Collins, Max Allan.

  • Carnal Hours. New York, Dutton, 1994.
  • Blood in Thunder. New York, Dutton, 1995.
  • Damned in Paradise. New York, Dutton, 1996.
  • Flying Blind. New York: Dutton, 1998.
  • The author researches actual historic crimes and then places a private eye (Nathan Heller) in the middle of it. Nate is a Jew by way of his father and his Jewishness sometimes gets a very minor play in the story. Nate is a clever private investigator that you would like to have on your side on any defense.

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    Delman, David.

  • Murder in the Family. Garden City: DoubleDay, 1972.
  • Sudden Death . Garden City: DoubleDay, 1972.
  • He Who Digs a Grave. Garden City: DoubleDay 1985.
  • A Jewish New York City Lieutenant (Jacob Horowitz) goes to Long Island and eventually finds his way out West, all in the pursuit of murderers. These are nice, relaxing reads filled with "chicken-soup and matzah balls."

    Dietz, Denise.

  • Throw Darts at a Cheesecake. New York: Walker, 1992
  • Beat Up a Cookie. New York: Walker, 1994.
  • A divorced Weight Winners counselor from Colorado Springs (Ellie Bernstein) gets mixed in one and then another murder investigation. At the same time she gets pleasantly mixed up with the police detective who solves the murders (with her help, of course)

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    Fairstein, Linda.

  • Final Jeopardy. New York: Scribners, 1996
  • Likely to Die. New York: Scribners, 1997
  • Cold Hit. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999.
  • There is nothing tentative about ManhattanÕs top sex crimes prosecutor (Alexandra Cooper). With a job description that matches the real-life one of the author, the Assistant District Attorney partners with NY Police Detectives and solves one grisly case after the other. Even though she can meet every challenge in her path as she speeds through New York City life in the fast lane, her personal life (including her Jewishness) and anxieties could benefit from some greater investigation. It is a wonderful series and I hope it continues with many books to come.

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    Geller, Michael.

  • Heroes Also Die. New York: St. Martins, 1988.
  • Three Strikes YouÕre Dead. New York: St. Martins, 1992.
  • These are stories about a wise-guy private eye (Slots Resnick) and his investigations. The first involves the murder of a movie idol and the second is for the NY Mets. The baseball one involves a baseball prospect on a college team in Colorado. The prospect turns out to be woman and the plot gets even more complicated from then on. As for Slots, the son of a father who was a cantor and a mother who was Irish Catholic, he is one tough ex-professional baseball player and NYC Chief of Detectives.

    George, Theodore.

  • The Deadly Homecoming. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1972.
  • The brother of a New York City Detective (Alfred Zimmerman) is murdered and the policeman gets involved in solving the crime. Meanwhile some issues of the cops tangential relationship with the rest of the family is played out because of his inter-marriage. This is a very dated mystery without a great deal of suspense.

    Goldman, Ivan.

  • Where the Money Is. New York: Barricade Books, 1995.
  • This is the only novel of Ivan Goldman's that I have found. It is an engaging story of twists and turns in which we follow a one-time US attorney (Terry Lasky) through the complications of receiving money stolen from the mob. It was a very good read.

    Greenburg, Dan.

  • Love Kills. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1978.
  • Exes. New York: Zebra, 1990.
  • In the first novel a rather stupid New York Private Investigator (Max Segal) tries to catch a madman. In the second novel Max is married (to a non-Jew) and struggles to keep his marriage together while being duped by a serial killer. Greenburg's peculiar humor is evident in this title as well as the many non-mysteries that he has written.

    Grisman, Arnold.

  • The Winning Streak. New York: Penguin, 1985.
  • Former college football star and spy finds himself in the midst of an incredible lucky gambling streak. Several murders, robberies and much more later (Goldberg) enjoys beautiful women and more.

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    Hirschberg, Cornelius.

  • Florentine Finish. London: Allison & Busby, 1963.
  • A somewhat dated but nonetheless interesting diamond salesman (Saul Handy) on 47th Street in New York City. He solves the complicated crime and meets several unsavory characters along the way.

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    Isaacs, Susan.

  • Compromising Positions. New York: NY Times, 1978.
  • After All These Years. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.
  • Lily White. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.
  • As in many of Isaac's novels, we are in Shorehaven Acres, Long Island with one-liners and a comic murder mystery. Her first mystery features an amateur detective (Judith Singer) and the story is witty and creative with a very accurate ear for dialogue. The second entry finds a high-school teacher, divorcee (Rose Meyers) thrown into solving the murder of her ex. Everyone is a good guy or a bad guy and much is quite predictable, but the laughs keep coming and of course Rose solves the murder. In her third the characterization deepens, the plot gets a bit more complex, yet the humor and pathos are of the finest quality. Lily is an attorney and the story has to be read to be appreciated.

    Isenberg, Jane.

  • The "M" Word. New York: Avon, 1999.
  • Death in a Hot Flash. New York: Avon, 2000.
  • Mood Swings to Murder. New York: Avon, 2000.
  • A Jersey City Community College Speech Instructor is her day job (Bel Barrett) but she moonlights as an armchair sleuth. Her struggles with her family and her constant reminders of the change of life add a further dimension to this most likeable character.

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    Jaffe, Jody.

  • Horse of a Different Killer. New York: Ivy, 1995.
  • Chestnut Mare Beware. New York: Ballantine, 1996.
  • In Colt Blood. New York: Ballantine, 1998.
  • Delightfully offbeat for us horse-lovers, this is a fascinating story about horses, riding and killers. A reporter for the Charlotte, NC newspaper (Natalie Gold) juggles her eastcoast Jewishness with her investigative reporting. The first books have been followed up with a story line that plays out a bit predictable, but entertainingly, nonetheless. I have very much enjoyed getting to know Natalie, the Charlotte newspaper business, and a good deal about horses.

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    Kaminsky, Stuart.

  • High Midnight. New York: St. Martins, 1981
  • Catch a Falling Clown. New York: Viking, 1984
  • Down for the Count. New York: G.K. Hall, 1986.
  • The Man Who Shot Lewis Vance. New York: Mysterious, 1986.
  • Smart Moves. New York: St. Martins, 1987.
  • Murder on the Yellow Brick Road. New York: Penguin, 1989.
  • Poor Butterfly. New York: Mysterious, 1990.
  • Buried Ceasars. New York, Mysterious, 1990.
  • The Howard Hughes Affair. New York: Mysterious, 1990.
  • You Bet Your Life. New York: Mysterious, 1990.
  • Bullet for a Star. New York: Warner, 1991.
  • The Melting Clock. New York: Mysterious, 1991.
  • The Fala Factor. New York: Mysterious, 1993.
  • He Done Her Wrong. New York: Mysterious, 1995.
  • The Devil Met a Lady. New York: Mysterious, 1995.
  • Tomorrow is Another Day. New York: Warner, 1995
  • Never Cross a Vampire. New York: Mysterious, 1995.
  • Think Fast Mr. Peters. New York: Warner, 1996.
  • Dancing in the Dark. New York: Mysterious, 1996
  • A Fatal Glass of Beer. New York: Mysterious, 1997.
  • This is a remarkable writing achievement for Stuart Kaminsky, and he is the author of two other series of detective novels, one of which is included in the last section of this bibliography. Here the author introduces us to the private eye (Toby Peters) who has forsaken his real name of Tobias Leo Pevsner. There is never any overt discussion of his Jewish identity, yet his police detective-brother has kept the family name. (In A Fatal Glass of Beer Toby and his brother discuss attending a synagogue service.) Meanwhile Toby spends most of his time with the rich and famous, usually situated in the Hollywood 40's and 50's. Reading about Toby Peters is a lot of fun and the plotting is clever and often unpredictable.

    Katz, Michael.

  • Murder on the Glass. New York: Walker, 1987.
  • Last Dance in Redondo Beach. New York: Pocket Books, 1989.
  • The Big Freeze. New York: Putnam, 1991.
  • A sportscaster (Andy Sussman) runs into all sorts of problems. In the first book his announcing partner is murdered, which sets back his own career some and then he is about to make it big when he finds himself in the middle of a drowning at a pro-wrestling championship. The first novel takes place in Chicago, while the Southern California atmosphere leads back to Chicago to find the answer to the murder in the second. The third finds Andy married and together with his wife investigating a disappearance at a Rockies ski resort. Katz's books are filled with adolescent humor and references to Jewish ethnicity. In fact, the three books leave a lot to be desired.

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    Leonard, Sam.

  • A Difficult Trade: A Baseball Mystery. San Francisco: Rob Reed, 2000.
  • A fascinating story that introduces Stanley Starfish, a Miami police detective. The author provides an incredible amount of intricate details concerning many things, including business, baseball, police procedures, and more. The main character makes the book worth reading.

    Lethem, Jonathan.

  • Motherless Brooklyn. New York: Vintage, 2000.
  • We meet a most amazing character (Lionel Essrog), a detective suffering from Tourette's syndrome, who spins the narrative as he tracks down the killer of his boss, who enlisted Lionel and his friends when they were teenagers living at an orphanage in Brooklyn, of course. This is a most remarkable fictional account of Tourettes and Lionel is a most appealing character.

    Levin, Donna.

  • California Street. New York: Onyx, 1992.
  • A San Francisco therapist (Joel Abramowitz) is tortured by guilt and in the process works at solving a murder. We are privy to an overly drawn-out plot and some rather one-dimensional characters. The City sounds and feels very good but the story suffers in comparison.

    Lockridge, Richard.

  • Preach No More. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1971.
  • Write Murder Down. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972.
  • Or Was He Pushed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1975.
  • A Streak of Light. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1976.
  • The Old Die Young . Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1990.
  • We are introduced to New York Policeman (Nathan Shapiro) and view the crime-ridden world through his eyes and get one view of what anti-Semitism in the police force means. Most of these are quite dated but a pleasant read, nonetheless.

    Littman, Pascal.

  • Deadly Prayers. Evanston: Chicago Spectrum Press, 1996.
  • I just met a new detective (Lieutenant Stanley Beltz) who works for the Chicago Police Department. A thoughtful, intuitive widower searching for ways to bring order out of chaos in a most readable fashion. This book is described as the first in a series of novels planned by Arlene Pascal and Ruth Littman. I look forward to their next one.

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    Montecino, Marcel.

  • The Cross-Killer. New York: Pocket Books, 1988.
  • This is a raw, and often violent, look at Los Angeles through the eyes of veteran policeman (Jack Gold). The story is filled with relatives of his ex-wife, former lover and his children, all mixed up with a Jewish Defense League-like situation.

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    Oster, Jerry.

  • Sweet Justice. New York: Harper and Row, 1985.
  • Nowhere Man. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.
  • Club Dead. New York: Bantam, 1990.
  • Here is another New York City policeman (Jack Neuman) who is a homicide detective. Not surprisingly a Jewish cop married to a non-Jew and Jack presents a greater interest in the Hispanic culture of his wife than his own. In the first novel Jack is a star detective who gets tricked for most of the book. By the second he has decided to come out of a premature retirement to hunt down another killer. In the third he is a bit down on his luck and finds himself involved with a reporter, who apparently committed suicide, and a beautiful federal prosecutor. Oster writes a well-done Police Procedural.

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    Rhodes, Vivian.

  • Groomed for Murder. New York: Ballantine, 1983.
  • There is a lot going for this transplanted New Yorker (Susan Finkelstein) who decides she really belongs in Los Angeles. Writing children's books is not as interesting as solving murders and she finds time to fall out of love with a streetwise reporter from Brooklyn, who happens to be in LA as well.

    Roberts, Gillian.

  • Caught Dead in Philadelphia. New York: Ballantine, 1987.
  • Philly Stakes. New York: Scribner's, 1989.
  • I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia. New York: Ballantine, 1992.
  • With Friends Like These. New York: Ballantine, 1993.
  • How I Spent My Summer Vacation. New York: Ballantine, 1994.
  • In the Dead of Summer. New York: Ballantine, 1995.
  • The Bluest Blood. New York: Ballantine, 1998.
  • Helen Hath No Fury. New York: Ballantine, 2000.
  • How about a Philadelphia private-school teacher (Amanda Pepper) who lives alone with her cat and comes home to find a colleague murdered in her home. The murder leads us to discover many things about Amanda, the police detective investigates the murder and Amanda's suburban family. In the second novel she is still involved with the detective while the plot revolves discovering the murderer of an abusive husband of someone she befriends. The subsequent novels play upon her relationship with the police detective (he moves in with her) and Amanda's determination to be a volunteer investigator on her own. Other than very casual references to her Jewishness, often connected to her contact with her intrusive mother (who, of course, lives in Florida) her story is one of complete assimilation. This is a series written by the novelist Judith Greber, who publishes her mysteries under the name of Roberts.

    Rosen, R.D.

  • Strike Three You're Dead. New York: Walker, 1984.
  • Fadeaway. New York: Harper, 1986.
  • Saturday Night Dead. New York: Viking, 1988.
  • World of Hurt. New York: Walker and Co., 1994.
  • One of the more interesting characters in this collection (Harvey Blissberg) we meet when he is still the center-fielder for the Providence Red Sox. The murder of a starting pitcher gives him the first opportunity to try his hand at detecting and the rest moves on from there. By the fourth novel Rosen has apparently tired of Blissberg, and I for one miss him very much.

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    Schorr, Mark. Red

  • Diamond. New York: St. Martin's, 1983.
  • Ace of Diamonds. New York: St. Martin's, 1984.
  • Diamond Rock. New York: St. Martin's, 1985.
  • An unusual protagonist (Red Diamond) is a former New York City cabbie (by the name of Simon Jaffe) who has taken on a new persona as a means of dealing with his own misery. This is a tongue-in-cheek and affectionate parody of the hard-boiled characters we often meet in mysteries, with a great character in this series.

    Schutz, Benjamin.

  • The Things We Do For Love. New York: Scribner's, 1989.
  • A Fistful of Empty. New York: Viking, 1991.
  • Mexico is Forever. New York: St Martin's, 1994.
  • Described as the leanest, meanest private eye you would ever meet (Leo Haggerty) Schutz has painted a vivid and hard-edged picture of the seamy side of suburban Washington, D.C. Haggerty tells us that his mother is Jewish and that is the extent of his manner of inclusion with this list. Haggerty's bluster is a bit hard to believe, but entertaining.

    Singer, Shelley.

  • Samson's Deal. New York: St. Martin's, 1983.
  • Free Draw. New York: St. Martin's, 1984.
  • Full House. New York. St. Martin's 1986.
  • Royal Flush. Santa Barbara: Perseverance Press, 1999.
  • Following Jane. New York: Signet, 1993
  • Picture of David. New York: Signet, 1993.
  • Searching for Sara. New York: Signet, 1994.
  • Interview with Mattie. New York: Signet, 1995.
  • Singer presents two Northern California characters. The first series features a former Chicago cop (Jake Samson) who is solving crimes privately in Berkeley and then in Marin County, including one centering on a skin-head group in the most recent.. The second is a Berkeley high school teacher (Barrett Lake) who, as a child, was adopted by her mid-western Jewish parents. Barrett decides that becoming a Bay-area Private Investigator is a lot more interesting than trying to teach high school kids.

    Simon, Roger L.

  • The Big Fix. San Francisco: Straight Arrow, 1973.
  • Peking Duck. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.
  • California Roll. New York: Villard, 1985.
  • Raising the Dead. New York: Villard, 1988.
  • Lost Coast. New York: Harper Collins, 1997.
  • For almost twenty years we have been traveling around the world following the footloose and often morose Private Investigator (Moses Wine). One of the more phlegmatic and opinionated characters on this list, he takes some getting used to, but by then it is hard to let him go. Fortunately, in my opinion, Moses returned in '97 and the story concerns his sons, his ex-wife and several poignant reflections that were great fun to read.

    Smith, Julie.

  • Death Turns a Trick. New York: Walker, 1982.
  • The Sourdough Wars. New York: Walker, 1984.
  • Tourist Trap. New York: Mysterious, 1986.
  • Dead in the Water. New York: Ballantine, 1991.
  • Other People's Skeletons. New York: Ivy Books, 1993.
  • This is one of the several series that Ms. Smith has written and her introduction of San Francisco attorney (Rebecca Schwartz) is a captivating one. She is strong-willed and compassionate investigator who can occasionally be comforted by her journalist boy friend and her Marin County mother. I still am hoping that Smith will return to Rebecca some day in the future.

    Steinberg, Janice.

  • Death of a Postmodernist. New York: Berkley, 1995.
  • Death Crosses the Border. New York: Berkley, 1995.
  • Death-Fire Dances. New York: Berkley, 1996
  • The Dead Man and the Sea. New York: Berkley, 1997.
  • A San Diego Public Radio reporter (Margo Simon) ends up solving the murder of an artist and almost becomes a victim herself. Certainly a strong and interesting character she comes up short in terms of any exploration of her Jewishness, but a delightful read nonetheless. The subsequent books allow us to grow with Margo in many ways (though not her Jewishness) and they are wonderful mysteries, filled with local San Diego color, an interesting protagonist, and a developing family.

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    Tanenbaum, Robert.

  • No Lesser Plea. New York: Signet, 1987
  • Depraved Indifference. New York: Signet, 1989.
  • Immoral Certainty. New York: Signet, 1991.
  • Reversible Error. New York: Signet, 1993.
  • Iseemed to be one of the last readers to "discover" Tanenbaum and his protagonist (Butch Karp). I quickly became swept up in the life of this Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, but after reading a few I am a bit weary. The atmosphere of the courts, New York City, lower Manhattan, and the village are real enough, but his character development leaves a lot to be desired.

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    Wallace, Marilyn.

  • A Single Stone. New York: Doubleday, 1991.
  • This novel from a prolific author of psychological thrillers features an Oakland, California Police Sergeant (Jay Goldstein) who gets into the middle of a suspenseful story about a child murderer.

    Weiss, Mike.

  • No Go On Jackson Street. New York: Ballantine, 1987.
  • All Points Bulletin. New York: Avon, 1989.
  • A Dry and Thirsty Ground. New York: St. Martin's, 1992.
  • A San Francisco cab driver turned sleuth (Ben Henry) is an intriguing character that winds his way through the city and in and out of a marriage, a career as a newspaper journalist and a few murders. I hope that I will get a ride from such a cab driver some day.

    Wilcox, Collin.

  • Bernhardt's Edge. New York: Tor, 1988.
  • Silent Witness. New York: Tor, 1990.
  • Except for the Bones. New York: Tor, 1991.
  • Find Her a Grave. New York: Forge, 1993.
  • The private eye (Alan Bernhardt) is also a director, actor, and playwright. He works at solving mysteries when he is not trying to direct theater in San Francisco. Through the theater he meets Paula, who eventually joins him as an associate in his investigations. The atmosphere is quite authentic, the detective's angst is very real and the plots are finely developed. I wish the author would continue writing these mysteries.

    Witten, Matt.

  • Breakfast at Madeline's. New York: Signet, 1999.
  • Grand Delusion. New York: Signet, 2000
  • Strange Bedfellows. New York: Signet, 2000.
  • Here is a wonderful family man (Jacob Burns) living in Saratoga Springs, now a successful screen writer (which he is in real life), and gets unwittingly involved in a one murder after another. He then spends the rest of the time solving them. These both are nicely written, filled with wonderful asides about parenting, and a lot of local color about the town and the Albany, NY area..

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    Acculturation

    the mutual influence of different cultures in close contact. In this context the Jewish characters in the following novels are interested in demonstrating some aspect of their religious, cultural, or ethnic background which serves to illuminate the development of the character, or the plot.

    Brill, Toni.

  • Date with a Dead Doctor. New York: Worldwide Mystery, 1992.
  • Date with a Plummeting Publisher. New York: Worldwide Mystery, 1995.
  • Reading these books allows you to be part of a family which includes a divorced Jewish writer who is fluent in Russian, lives on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, (Midge Cohen) and is frequently visited by her yenta, widowed mother. Join them in their attempts to solve murder mysteries.

    Bergman, Andrew.

  • The Big Kiss-Off of 1944. New York: Holt, 1974.
  • Hollywood and LeVine. New York: Holt, 1975.
  • Tender is LeVine. New York: St. Martin's, 2001.
  • Before Bergman became successful with the screenplay for "Blazing Saddles" he wrote these two hilarious and poignant Los Angeles mysteries (starring Jack LeVine). Enjoy the local flavor of Fairfax Avenue. He is back!! Fortunately for all comic mystery readers, Bergman has decided to give us LeVine again. This time it is 1950 and Meyer Lansky and many others help move the plot alongŃquickly. A wonderful read.

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    Cluster, Dick.

  • Return to Sender. New York: Penguin, 1988.
  • Repulse Monkey. New York: Dutton, 1989.
  • Obligations of the Bone. New York: St. Martin's, 1992.
  • Here is a forty-ish college dropout, trying to survive cancer and working in Boston as a car mechanic (Alex Glauberman). Inadvertently he gets involved in a mystery that takes him to London and Berlin and back to London. It is well worth the read. The second novel stays much closer to home and only leaves Boston to visit the winter resort area in New Hampshire. The third visits the issues of a cancer patient in Boston. They both keep the promise the first book began. Alex is seriously involved with a minister's daughter and his Jewish soul is in anguish (some of the time).

    Cohen, Charles.

  • Silver Linings. New York: Dutton, 1988.
  • What we have here is a househusband in suburban Chicago (Nicky Silver) solving a troubling murder in the neighborhood. In the midst of child-raising and parenting angst, the amateur detective gets involved with most everyone in town and finally leads the police to the murderer. An intriguing premise, yet a bit unreal in its application.

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    Dobyns, Stephen.

  • Saratoga Backtalk. New York: Penguin, 1994.
  • Saratoga Fleshpot. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
  • Saratoga Strongbox. New York: Viking, 1998.
  • Those of us who have relished the Saratoga Springs, NY detective (Charlie Bradshaw) can now spend time with his widowed Jewish sidekick and sometime partner (Victor Plotz). I laughed and cried with the amusing and poignant self-deprecating humor that he uses. They are very good mystery besides. The second and third books are not quite as original (in its introduction of the Jewish humor that Victor uses) but it is still worth the effort.

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    Finkelstein, Jay.

  • Idle Gossip. New York: Dell, 1997.
  • The scene is New York and the protagonist is a literary agent (Leo Gold) and he gets tangled up in a messy story that is taking place in an Appalachian town. The story is not believable, but the character is a very engaging. I hope the author keeps trying until he gets his plotting to be more believable.

    Fliegel, Richard.

  • The Next to Die. New York: Bantam, 1986.
  • The Art of Death. New York: Pocket, 1988.
  • The Organ Grinder's Monkey. New York: Pocket, 1989.
  • Time to Kill. New York: Pocket, 1990.
  • A Semi-Private Doom. New York: Pocket, 1991.
  • A Minyan for the Dead. New York: Pocket, 1993.
  • The Man Who Murdered Himself. New York: Pocket, 1994.
  • Meet New York City policeman (Shelly Lowenkopf) who finds his way all over the Big Apple, with a particular interest in the Bronx. By the latter books he has retired and become a Private Investigator and is involved with a rabbi accused of murder and then a psychologist at his own clinic. This is a particularly fast-paced and interesting set of mysteries. Keep them coming, please!

    Friedman, Kinky.

  • Greenwich Killing Time. New York: Morrow, 1986.
  • A Case of Lone Star. New York: Beach Tree Books, 1987.
  • When the Cat's Away. New York: Berkley Books, 1988.
  • Frequent Flyer. New York: Morrow, 1989.
  • Musical Chairs. New York: Morrow, 1991.
  • Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
  • Armadillos & Old Lace. New York: Bantam, 1995
  • God Bless John Wayne. New York: Bantam, 1996.
  • Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover. New York: Ballantine, 1997.
  • Roadkill. New York: Ballantine, 1997.
  • Blast from the Past. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.
  • Kinky keeps them coming almost every year now and provides us with the clever, though sometimes tedious (and always self-serving), stories with himself as the chief protagonist who solves crimes as the un-licensed Private Investigator. Beneath the humor are occasional insights that make the reading his stories very much worth the effort.

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    Goldstein, Arthur.

  • Nobody's Sorry He Got Killed. New York: Random House, 1976.
  • The private investigator is a retired garment cutter, now living in Southern California (Max Guttman). Together with several other members of the Golden Valley Senior Citizen they become a small band of "irregulars" and solve a difficult mystery. Max is an intriguing character and I enjoyed all the different personalities in the book.

    Gordon, Dan.

  • Just Play Dead. New York: St. Martin's, 1997.
  • I found this recently in my public library and from the very first page was caught up in the drama and plot. When I picked up the book it was between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. On page one the author says, "Éfrom that point on everyone's fate was sealed; who would live and who would die, who would kill and who would be killed, who by fire and who by drowningÉ" It gets even better when we meet the only Hawaiian-Jewish police detective (Dani Kahane). I hope the second mystery in the series appears soon.

    Gross, Leonard.

  • Strangers at the Gate. New York: Random House, 1995.
  • A San Francisco police officer (Zack Tobias) is a wealthy member of the elite Jewish community and is trying to solve the mystery of an attack on a television reporter. His investigation leads him eventually to Hong Kong, and at the same time it leads him back to his own cultural roots. This is a gripping and well-told story from a very accomplished author.

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    Haiblum, Isidore.

  • Murder in Yiddish. New York: St. Martin's, 1988.
  • Bad Neighbors. New York: St. Martin's, 1990.
  • It all begins with a tenement building on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan where a private eye (Jim Shaw) is temporarily installed to snoop on a rogue cop. The story extends in different ways across two novels. Along the way you can meet Jim's brother who teaches Yiddish and English Literature at Columbia, his uncle Max who retired from the investigator business to move to Florida, a taste of the Lower Eastside, the Upper Westside and much more. I hope that Haiblum gives us another story with the same detective soon (though he does "chat" a bit too much for my taste).

    Hentoff, Nat.

  • Blues for Charlie Darwin. New York: William Morrow, 1982.
  • The Man from Internal Affairs. New York: Mysterious Press, 1985.
  • I should begin by noting what a big fan I am of most everything Hentoff writes, often in the Village Voice. In these two novels we meet a New York City cop (Noah Green) and follow him through two stories. Both are set in a gritty and fast-paced Greenwich Village and are very satisfying crime novels. How I wish that Hentoff would write a few more!

    Horowitz, Renee, B.

  • Rx for Murder. New York: Avon, 1997.
  • Deadly Rx. New York: Avon, 1997.
  • Scottsdale Arizona is the setting, a pharmacist (Ruthie Morris) is the main character. She is a widow and becomes fully involved with a murder in each book. Ruthie is sorting out her own future (perhaps to include her first love, now divorced) and mulling over life with a wide assortment of characters. I look forward to more novels that will leave some of the detailed observations of every-day life behind.

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    Jevons, Marshall.

  • The Fatal Equilibrium. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985.
  • Two Economic Professors wrote this thinly-disguised-as-a-mystery economics treatise with a Harvard Professor (Henry Spearman) solving the murder. A terse and difficult to read mystery.

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    Kahn, Michael.

  • Grave Designs. New York: Signet, 1992.
  • Death Benefits. New York: Dutton, 1992.
  • Firm Ambitions. New York: Onyx, 1995.
  • Due Diligence. New York: Dutton, 1995.
  • Sheer Gall. New York: Dutton, 1996
  • Bearing Witness. New York: Forge, 2000.
  • It is time to meet a Chicago attorney (Rachel Gold) who finds out that not all is what it seems in her staid law firm. Murder comes as a surprise in her law work, but she handles it and other challenges quite well. The subsequent mysteries move to Rachel's hometown of St. Louis and she is victorious against great odds, even when everyone else counts her out. Rachel's pal Benny provides the ethnic humor and hilarity to move the plot along. Kahn tries to capture a woman's voice and point-of-view, and often succeeds. One book (Due Diligence) has Rachel dating a reform rabbi, and in the most recent ones she is dating an orthodox Jew. Each book deals intelligently with a difficult and important issue. This is one of my most favorite series.

    Kaye, Marvin.

  • My Son, The Druggist. New York: Doubleday, 1977.
  • It is not too often that we get a chance to meet a nice Jewish boy who is working as a pharmacist on the Upper Westside (Martin Gold) and who gets involved in the middle of a murder. Martin lacks many things, but thinking through the logic of the crime comes his way.

    Klein, Zachary.

  • Still Among the Living. New York: Ballantine Books, 1990.
  • Two Way Toll. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
  • No Saving Grace. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993.
  • Klein has slowly and increasingly drawn the Jewish theme into the life and story of a "burnt-out" social worker (Matt Jacob). This almost-always stoned, amateur Private Investigator struggles with everything so much that it is a very tiring read, but if you like Boston, you might like Klein and the strange characters that people his books.

    Knight, Kathryn Lasky.

  • Trace Elements. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.
  • Mortal Words. New York: Summit, 1990.
  • Mumbo Jumbo. New York: Pocket, 1991.
  • Dark Swan. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.
  • Wow, let me tell you about an amazing, and not too well known series. It stars a children's book illustrator (Calista Jacobs) She lives in Cambridge where her deceased husband was a world-famous physicist at Harvard. (He is killed early on in the first book.) Her teenage son is practicing to be a world-class computer wiz and would-be detective. She is immensely talented, beautiful, extremely intelligent and a great cook! In fact, there is nothing that she cannot do (including solving mysteries). The plots are a bit predictable, but there is a great deal to interest any reader. Calista manages to struggle with religious issues in each one of her plots and tells us that they even tried Hebrew school for her son! (Did I mention astronomy, art history, archeology and the Southwest? It's here also.)

    Koch, Edward I (with Herbert Resnicow)

  • Murder at City Hall. NY: Kensington, 1995.
  • Here is 'hisonner' (Ed Koch) as both author and hero! While mayor Koch investigates a murder to a real estate developer. It is clever, fast-paced, with an unabashed hero.

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    Lashner, William.

  • Hostile Witness. New York: Harper, 1995.
  • Veritas. New York: Harper, 1997.
  • In the first book a Philadelphia Lawyer (Victor Carl) tries to pull himself up to some level of financial respectability by making a "Faustian" bargain with another lawyer. Along the way he discovers that selling his soul is harder than he thinks. He even discovers something about his Jewishness at the end. The second book continues some of the activities of Carl but there is no further mention of his Jewish interests. Lashner writes very well and these are both excellent page-turners.

    Love, William F.

  • The Fundamentals of Murder. New York: Fine, 1989.
  • The Chartreuse Clue. New York: Fine, 1990.
  • Bloody Ten. New York: Fine, 1992.
  • This series stars wheelchair-bound Bishop Regan and his special assistant (ex-New York cop, Dave Goldman) who reside in a New York City Brownstone and closely imitate the Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin team. Written by one of the non-Jews on this list, Love does not have a good ear for dialogue and much of his plot is very predictable, but if you really like Rex Stout, you may enjoy Love.

    Lyons, Arthur.

  • The Dead are Discreet. New York: Mason and Lipscomb, 1974.
  • All God's Children . New York: Mason/Charter, 1975.
  • Hard Trade. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1981.
  • Three With A Bullet. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1985.
  • Fast Trade. New York: Mysterious Press, 1987.
  • Other People's Money. New York: Mysterious Press, 1989.
  • When his first book was published, The New York Times said "Move over, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer." The series stars an ex-newspaperman turned Private Investigator (Jacob Asch). Through him we also meet all sorts of bizarre Southern California characters and businesses. Traveling with Asch is definitely worth the bumpy and often bloody ride.

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    Meyers, Maan.

  • The Dutchman. New York: Bantam, 1993.
  • The husband and wife team of authors set this story in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, shortly after the Jews were permitted to settle. They try hard to re-create the atmosphere of the times and a bit of the history of early Jewish settlement through the difficult life of one of the Jewish residents (Racquel Mendoza). Much of the dialogue is forced and too much of the observations about the time are pedantic, but the mystery holds up nicely until the end. There are more in this series but they do not reach contemporary times, so I am have not included them.

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    Parrish, Richard.

  • The Dividing Line. New York: Dutton, 1993.
  • Versions of the Truth. New York: Onyx, 1994.
  • Nothing but the Truth. New York: Dutton, 1995.
  • Defending the Truth. New York: Onyx, 1998.
  • Here is a wounded WWII veteran (Joshua Rabb) who moves from Brooklyn to Tucson, AZ to practice law. He is widowed and has two children and decides to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to supplement his private practice. Caught up in a complicated plot, he fluctuates between passionate affairs with beautiful women and pondering the meaning of existence. His Yiddishkeit is in short supply, but his out-of-character struggle with God (recalling Rabbi Yitzchak of Berdichev) suggests that there might be more Jewishness in the future. The bleak, yet beautiful landscape evokes some of the images that Tony Hillerman has drawn. By 1998 the Jewishness has increased in the plotting and now Joshua is re-married. This is a well-constructed series.

    Piesman, Marissa.

  • Unorthodox Practices. New York: Pocket Books, 1989.
  • Personal Effects. New York: Pocket Books, 1991.
  • Heading Uptown. New York: Delacorte, 1993.
  • Close Quarters. New York: Delacorte, 1994
  • Alternate Sides. New York: Delacorte, 1995
  • Survival Instincts. New York: Delacorte, 1997.
  • I enjoy following housing lawyer (Nina Fischman) all over the Westside of Manhattan, then out to Long Island, a summer share on Fire Island, Los Angeles and finally Park Slope, Brooklyn. What you will learn about her, her mother, good Chinese take-out and other essentials for today's urban life style will certainly entertain you. The mystery plotting leaves a bit more to be desired. In the latest she returns from a miserable time in Los Angeles and tries her hand at solving a crime while thinking about taking up a new career in journalism. Marissa is one of the wittiest writers on the list. I hope she finds a way to resume her mystery writing soon.

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    Raphael, Lev.

  • Let's Get Criminal. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
  • The Edith Wharton Murders. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
  • The Death of a Constant Lover. New York: Walker, 1999.
  • Little Miss Evil. New York: Walker, 2000.
  • A fictitious State University in Michigan is the scene for a series of academic mysteries. A faculty member (Nick Hoffman) solves the crimes and in the process we learn a great deal about him, his partner, and academic life at the University. These books are a well-written series with interesting character development and a terrific sense of place. The author has a wonderful way of weaving classic fiction references into the plotting. Nick's Jewish identity continues to unfold as this series has developed.

    Rawlings, Ellen.

  • The Murder Lover. New York: Fawcett, 1997.
  • Deadly Harvest. New York: Fawcett, 1997.
  • In the first book a journalist (Rachel Crowne) is on the trail of the serial killer of four Jewish women somewhere near Washington D.C. Rachel makes a wonderful initial impression. In her second book Rachel solves the mystery of another multiple killing and almost gets the same in the end.

    Resnicow, Herbert.

  • The Gold Solution. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983.
  • The Gold Deadline. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984.
  • The Gold Curse. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986.
  • The Gold Gamble. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.
  • The Dead Room. New York: Worldwide Mystery, 1989.
  • The Hot Place. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.
  • The last two novels feature a businessman (Ed Bar) and his son who are far from the typical detective team, but it is worth turning the pages to see what this Long Island family turns up. Apparently Resnicow has decided to leave the Gold couple, who star in the first four books, behind and follow the exploits of the Bar family team.

    Rosen, Dorothy and Sidney.

  • Death and Blintzes. New York: Walker & Co., 1985.
  • Death And Strudel. Chicago: Academy, 2000.
  • In the middle of the depression in Boston a young widow (Belle Appleman) goes about solving murders that just keeps unfolding while being employed first as a garment worker in a clothing company and then in a pharmacy.

    Rosenthal, Erik.

  • Calculus of Murder. New York: St. Martin's, 1986.
  • Advanced Calculus of Murder. New York: St. Martin's, 1988.
  • Here is a Ph.D. In Mathematics (Dan Brodsky) who is trying to find a college teaching job (as long as it is in the San Francisco Bay-area) and supplementing his part-time teaching with private investigating work. He finds the time for some love affairs and some calculus instruction along the way to solving the crimes.

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    Sloan, Bob.

  • Bliss. New York: Scribner's, 1996.
  • Bliss Jumps the Gun. New York: Norton, 1999.
  • It's very easy to like and admire this New York policeman (Lenny Bliss) who is struggling to keep his marriage, his family, his life and career together. He gets caught up with the Russian mob in Brighton Beach, and manages to find a way of solving the murder along the way. A very funny side story about the wife who is a stand-up comic making jokes about her husband's career moves the story right along. Hurry up and write another one, please. His second was worth waiting for. Lenny is still filled with angst, his cases are interesting, his wife is off to Hollywood to meet with Clint Eastwood about a movie deal, and his daughter is preparing for her bat mitzvah. Another very good read.

    Smith, J.C.S.

  • Jacoby's First Case. New York: Atheneum, 1980.
  • Nightcap. New York: Atheneum, 1984.
  • I found this New York City ex-transit cop (Quentin Jacoby) quite a sympathetic and fascinating character. Filled with good humor and family warmth, I hope this series resumes someday.

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    Weinman, Irving.

  • Tailor's Dummy. New York: Athenum, 1986.
  • Hampton's Heat. New York: Athenum, 1988.
  • Virgil's Ghost. New York: Ballantine, 1989.
  • Easy Way Down. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1991.
  • First we meet the hero as a New York City Detective (Lenny Schwartz) and then he decides to go private and then back again to "New York's Finest." Along the way we meet his non-Jewish wife and learn about his child at Yale (the tuition is being paid as a result of a drug lord's gratitude). This Park Slope, Brooklyn character has as many lives as the popular cat mysteries. Since his character lives only a few blocks from my house, I hope to meet him again, soon.

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    Yaffe, James.

  • A Nice Murder for Mom. New York: St. Martin's, 1988.
  • Mom Meets Her Maker. New York: St. Martin's, 1990.
  • Mom Doth Murder Sleep. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.
  • Mom Among the Liars. New York: St. Martin's, 1992.
  • The New York cop who leaves the big city after his wife dies and takes a job in a town in Colorado where he works as the Investigator (Inspector Dave) for the Public Defender. The real story is about Dave and his mother who is the one solving the mysteries. It wouldn't hurt the series if mom got a name and her character was developed a bit more, but there is a certain sweetness about the books that qualifies these as one of the few "cozys" on the list.

    Affirmation

    something affirmed; positive declaration; assertion. In this context the Jewish characters in the following novels are proud of their Jewish identity and some aspect of Judaism serves to advance the plot.

    Chafets, Zev.

  • Inherit the Mob. New York: Random House, 1991.
  • Chafets, of "Jerusalem Report" and Likud fame provides us with some real goodies when he introduces us to Jewish Mafioso's with a journalist (William Gordon) who solves the mystery while in the middle of a family mess.

    Cohen, Martin.

  • The Truth About Marvin Kalish. Port Angeles, WA: Ben-Simon, 1992.
  • Light From Dead Stars. Regina, Saskatchewan: Coteau Books, 1996.
  • The Sword of Goliath. Regina, Saskatchewan: Coteau Books, 1998.
  • These three books all feature Jewish mysticism and lore at their center. Each story moves from the present time in New York back to earlier experiences in Europe. The first story features a stand-up comic (Marvin Kalish), the second a oncologist (Bradley Brodsky), and the third a caterer (Michael Prager). Each story is a riveting comic suspense and true delights novel, filled with Jewish knowledge, insights, and laughs.

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    Dershowitz, Alan.

  • Advocate's Devil. New York: Warner, 1995.
  • Just Revenge. New York: Warner, 1999.
  • This is Dershowitz's first novel featuring a criminal defense attorney (Abe Ringel) who is presented with a legal dilemma and seeks guidance from his law school professor who quotes Talmudic wisdom to help him solve his problems. Given the author's yeshiva background the Jewish references are accurate and help to move the plot along very nicely. The second novel continues where the first ended. This time the issues revolve around whether taking revenge in your own hands is justifiable for a Holocaust survivor.

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    Elkins, Aaron.

    Loot. New York: William Morrow, 1999.
    A somewhat depressed ex-art curator (Benjamin Revere) gets caught up in a complicated plot about rare European art that was stolen by the Nazis and then fenced by Russians. It is a wonderful story and a beguiling character. The atmosphere is terrific and the Jewish story that runs through is fascinating. I hope Revere re-appears.

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    Goldberg, Ed.

  • Served Cold. New York: Berkley, 1997.
  • Dead Air. New York: Berkley, 1998.
  • We meet a New York private eye (Lenny Schneider) who tries to prevent a Holocaust survivor from killing his former prison camp guard. A great deal happens in this very New York story. Goldberg has made a great beginning. I look forward to more. The more happens in Portland, Oregon where Lenny works at solving several killings connected to the Public Radio station there. Lenny is most likeable and attractive character and I look forward to more crime solving.

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    Herst, Roger.

  • Woman of the Cloth. Wash. D.C.: Schreiber, 1998.
  • This is a compelling story of a female rabbi (Gabby Lewyn) who defends a rapist while struggling to become the senior rabbi of the reform temple. The reform rabbi (the author is one also) is intelligent, yet vulnerable, and provides us with a rare insight into synagogue politics. I look forward to the next one!

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    Kahn, Sharon.

  • Fax Me a Bagel. New York: Scribner, 1998.
  • Never Nosh A Matzo Ball. New York: Scribner, 2000.
  • A wonderful new character is Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife (widow actually) who solves the murder which takes place in a Bagel store in Eternal, Texas. Ruby is an interesting character and we learn a lot about her synagogue and Jewish life. I enjoyed the story and the characters. Her second book builds on the first but is not as interesting.

    Kaminsky, Stuart.

  • When the Dark Man Calls. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983.
  • Lieberman's Folly. New York: Ivy Books, 1991.
  • Lieberman's Choice. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
  • Lieberman's Day. New York: Henry Holt, 1994.
  • Lieberman's Thief. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.
  • Lieberman's Law. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.
  • The Big Silence. New York: Forge, 2000.
  • Certainly one of my favorites and with good reason...Kaminsky gives us a real Jewish cop from Chicago (Abe Lieberman) whose wife becomes the president of the Conservative shul in their neighborhood. He first appears as a minor figure but already is the wise and unassuming policeman in the 1983 story. Kaminsky is one of the best writers of this genre (he has created now three other series of mysteries) and has given us very believable and sympathetic characters. Lieberman's Law combines a story that begins in Israel with events in Chicago. His latest changes the pattern of the title, but not the quality of the character, plot, and enjoyment of his writing. Lieberman continues to develop and the secondary characters as well. The second and third generations of the family raise interesting issues of Jewish identity.

    Kellerman, Faye.

  • The Ritual Bath. New York: Arbor, 1986.
  • Sacred and Profane. New York: Arbor, 1987.
  • Milk and Honey. New York: Morrow, 1990.
  • The Day of Atonement. New York: Morrow, 1991.
  • False Prophet. New York: Morrow, 1992.
  • Grievous Sin. New York: Morrow, 1993.
  • Sanctuary. New York: Morrow, 1994.
  • Justice. New York: Morrow, 1995.
  • Prayers for the Dead. New York: Morrow, 1996.
  • Serpent's Tooth. New York: Morrow, 1997.
  • Jupiter's Bones. New York: Morrow, 1999.
  • One of the more popular mystery writers, perhaps because she has been able to have her orthodox Los Angeles characters (policeman Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus) try to teach us about Judaism as well as how to solve the murders they uncover. My personal favorite was her first book, which is not as forced as the subsequent titles. As the series has progressed there is less of Rina and more of Peter. Those who prefer all the sex, violence and mayhem off-stage can comfortably read the earlier novels but this has changed as the series has continued. Some of the plotting details are not fully believable but the stories are a good read.

    Kemelman, Harry.

  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late. New York: Crown, 1964.
  • Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry. New York: Crown, 1966.
  • The Nine Mile Walk. New York: Putnam, 1967.
  • Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home. New York: Putnam, 1969.
  • Monday the Rabbi Took Off. New York: Putnam, 1972.
  • Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red. New York: Fields, 1974.
  • Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet. New York: Morrow, 1976.
  • Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out. New York: Morrow, 1978.
  • Someday the Rabbi Will Leave. New York: Morrow, 1985.
  • One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross. New York: Morrow, 1987.
  • The Day the Rabbi Resigned. New York: Fawcett, 1992.
  • The Day the Rabbi Left Town. New York: Fawcett, 1996.
  • Kemelman popularized the Jewish mystery with his Rabbi-detective (Rabbi David Small) and he had kept on going (he died in 1997). Like many of the authors, who have created a long-running series, some are more believable than others. The author teaches the reader a considerable amount about Judaism (which is always used to help solve the mystery) and gives us a good introduction to Jewish life, by way of a Conservative synagogue of suburban Boston. In the final book Rabbi Small has retired but continued to solve mysteries in his new job as a college professor.

    Korelitz, Jean Hanff.

  • The Sabbathday River. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999.
  • A former VISTA volunteer,(Naomi Roth) turned head of a quilting cooperative in rural New Hampshire finds the body of a newborn baby and the next few hundred pages are filled with the consequences. The Passover seder scene and several others are poignant in the troubling religious issues that are raised.

    Krich, Rochelle M.

  • Till Death Do Us Part. New York: Avon Books, 1992.
  • Angel of Death. New York: Mysterious Press, 1994.
  • Speak No Evil. New York: Mysterious Press, 1996.
  • Fertile Ground. New York: Avon, 1998.
  • Blood Money. New York: Avon, 1999.
  • Krich, has her Los Angeles Police Detective (Jessica Drake) discover her hidden Jewish background. At the same time we find ourselves in the middle of complicated families and plots. In the third novel Krich introduces us to a new character (Debra Laslow), an attorney and a rabbi's daughter, who together with her father, introduces us to various elements of Jewish traditional law in the investigation of the case. Her next one takes place at a Los Angeles fertility clinic and we learn a great deal about medical procedures and quite a bit about traditional Jewish customs, as well. In her fifth book Krich returns to Jessica Drake and we are caught up in nursing home and Holocaust survivor story that comes very close to home for Drake. I am confident that whichever character stars in the next book it will be worth reading.

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    Lechtman, Michael.

  • Shapiro's Plan. Edmonton, Commonwealth, 1995.
  • A struggling middle-aged attorney (Nick Shapiro) has a chance to try a very big case and to change his life. It is not that simple and the complexities keep coming until the very end (in Israel).

    Levitsky, Ronald.

  • The Love that Kills. New York: Scribner, 1991.
  • The Wisdom of Serpents. New York: Scribner, 1992.
  • Stone Boy. New York: Scribner, 1993.
  • The Innocence That Kills. New York: Scribner, 1994.
  • Here we have Levitsky presenting the First-Amendment lawyers (Nate Rosen) working all over the country defending some of the most obnoxious people you never want to meet and at the same time solving crimes. His additional struggle is with the traditional Jewish home that he left behind some years before. The author has given us some of the most complicated Jewish characters on this list.

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    Rosenbaum, David. Zaddik.

  • New York, Mysterious Press, 1993.
  • Sasha's Trick. New York, Mysterious Press, 1995.
  • Ex-New York City Detective (Dov Taylor) is the star in the first detective novel by this author. We meet Taylor as a recently divorced, recovering alcoholic who now is a bank guard. He gets caught up in a rather unbelievable story involving the Mossad, Hassidic dynasties, a 72-carat diamond and the daughter of one of the Hassidic rabbis. He, of course, finds out that he is a descendent of 19th century zaddik (wise man) and the story keeps going on and on... In the second novel a Russian ˇmigrˇ (Sasha) travels from the Gulag to Brighton Beach and back to Moscow. All the time stealing and trying to stay one step ahead of the police. Rosenbaum 's research into the Russian Mafia is considerable and his character is a beguiling one. I look forward to more and more.

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    Steinberg, Janice.

  • Death in a City of Mystics. New York: Berkley, 1998.
  • The author has written several others titles (which are listed in the Assimilation section) starring a public radio reporter (Margo Simon) but this one has her traveling to Safed, Israel with her sister to help their mother. This title is filled with Jewish themes and the mysticism, characters, descriptions, scents and flavors of Safed give the book an added and enjoyable dimension.

    Stevens, Serita & Moore, Rayanne.

  • Bagels for Tea. New York: St. Martin's, 1993.
  • We meet widowed grandmother (Fanny Zindel) when she is visiting her granddaughter in England and while there a complicated series of murders gets solved by Bubbe. A bit hard to believe adventure but told with wit and humor. I am looking for an earlier mystery, which takes place in Israel, and hope to read it very soon.

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    Telushkin, Joseph.

  • The Unorthodox Murder of Rabbi Wahl. NY: Bantam, 1987.
  • The Final Analysis of Dr. Stark . New York: Bantam, 1988.
  • An Eye For An Eye. New York: Bantam, 1991.
  • Prolific author Telushkin has given us a Los Angeles rabbi (Rabbi Daniel Winter) who realizes that he is pretty good at detection. Not afraid to use his many talents, including his Jewish knowledge, he has gotten involved with quite a few murders by now and each one of them is worth reading. I hope that Rabbi Telushkin finds time in his busy non-fiction writing schedule to give us this other rabbi once again.

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