Acclaimed mystery writer Sharon Kahn returns with a flavorful new crime novel set in that most unlikely of Jewish population centers, Eternal, Texas.
Ruby knows she's in for trouble when her longtime nemesis, Essie Sue, talks her into housing Essie Sue's twin cousins, Lester and Larry. The boys are in town for pre-Bar Mitzvah schooling from Rabbi Kevin Kapstein. They will be no trouble, says Essie Sue. Famous last words.
Ruby, a rabbi's widow, has never felt much sympathy for Rabbi Kevin, but that's about to change. They now have something in common: their determination to survive Lester and Larry. Whoever coined the phrase "the terrible twos" didn't know Lester and Larry, "the terrible twelves."
Kevin will teach; Ruby will house; and Essie Sue, ever the hostess, will orchestrate the grandest Bar Mitzvah feast in Temple Rita's history. And the star attraction -- besides Essie Sue, of course -- is sure to be Herman Guenther, master lox cutter, who recently moved to town from New Jersey.
But when Herman meets an untimely demise from his own slicing knife, Essie Sue's plans seem all but ruined. Not to mention Herman's. Something's strange about this murder, as Ruby is quick to discover.
Tracing the victim's roots back to Nazi-era Denmark, Ruby soon puts the lox on the platter in a chase that takes her from Eternal to Alaska to New York. She asks some poignant questions along the way and hears some shocking answers.
Sharon Kahn's witty Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife Mysteries have universal appeal, as they make us laugh at ourselves even as we watch Ruby unravel the puzzles of life. With both humor and insight, Kahn proves once again that she's at the top of her form.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Sharon Kahn has worked as an arbitrator, attorney, and freelance writer. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Arizona Law School. She has written two children's books in addition to her Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife Mysteries -- Fax Me a Bagel, Never Nosh a Matzo Ball, and Don't Cry for Me, Hot Pastrami.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"Twins beget twins, Ruby. I thought you knew that."
"Why would I know that, Essie Sue? And especially before I've had my coffee."
"The Bible says so. In Genesis."
The woman is many things, but never unsure. Where does this kind of certainty come from -- is it genetic? What I do know is that the Bible says no such thing.
"I'm explaining to you, Ruby, that my second cousin, Rae Bitman, one of the Bitman twins of Buda, is the mother of these two delightful twin boys, and that the twinship came through the female side."
"I'm glad you cleared that up. And you don't need to say two twins -- it's redundant."
I should have let that pass, but if I can manage to irritate her, maybe she'll leave. She's already destroyed my favorite part of the morning -- when I sit out on my deck with the Times and a steaming mug of freshly ground Sumatra and slowly come alive.
"Always contrary, Ruby, but I'm going to ignore that. Rabbi Kapstein can settle Genesis for us later -- the clergy have to study all the generations as part of their training."
Oh, right. Kevin, our current rabbi at Temple Rita, avoids the begets and begots like the plague -- he says it makes him dizzy. But this is the second argument in a row Essie Sue has passed up since she arrived here at seven-thirty, and it really has me worried. On top of which, she's found several excuses to wander around inside the house, and I can't figure out what she's looking for. Even here on Watermelon Lane, a giant step down in the local real estate chain from neighborhoods like hers, we don't make a habit of visiting each other when it's barely light outside.
I should mention that Essie Sue Margolis, still the rock and pillar of our small congregation here in Eternal, has never given up her unending goal of molding me into the perfect rabbi's wife, even though the rabbi in question, my husband, Stu, died quite a few years ago. But I thought my status as a single woman had discouraged the pop-in visits she used to make when Stu was on the payroll.
"So what about the Bitman twins from Buda, Essie Sue?" (Buda, by the way, is pronounced B-YEW-da by those of us not new to Central Texas.) "All I know about them is that you enlisted them to take poor Professor Gonzales's body home before our unfortunate temple fund-raising cruise departed from Galveston last year."
"I'm trying to tell you, Ruby -- Rae Bitman, the oldest twin by three minutes, is married to Harold Levee of Buda."
"You mean Levy?"
"No, Levee, as in down on the levee to New Orleans. It's actually nicer than Levy, don't you think?"
I don't let myself think in these situations -- it's safer.
"They have twelve-year-old twin boys who will be thirteen next spring, Ruby."
"There's no arguing with that."
"Since they're family and live so far away, I'm insisting that Lester and Larry Levee be Bar Mitzvahed in the Jewish tradition, even though their mother thinks graduation at Buda Middle School is enough ceremony for one year. I'm driving the rabbi down to talk to them."
"Isn't it a little late? Bar Mitzvah training usually takes a few years. And Buda's not that far away."
"It's far enough, and this is a special case. They can have an abbreviated course."
"Kevin thinks this is okay?"
Why I expected an answer to this is beside the point.
"The religious part is the rabbi's responsibility -- mine is the lunch."
"I certainly want them welcomed in the right way, Ruby. And they wear huskies, so I need to shop in Austin for their outfits -- we don't have any Big and Talls for children here in Eternal."
"Aren't you getting ahead of yourself? They might grow out of the huskies in a year."
"It's never too early for fashion. You'll love the boys, though. They're adorable. They have the cutest curly locks -- just like when they were babies. And they're just as spirited."
"Spirited?" This is not a word Essie Sue uses lightly.
"You know -- enthusiastic. The lovable Levee twins, their parents call them."
"And everybody else calls them?"
"Ruby, quit speculating. You don't even know them."
"But you do, right? And why are you telling me?"
I'm getting a hard knot in the pit of my stomach.
"I slipped a tape measure into my purse this morning, and I took a quick look-see at your guest room, Ruby. It's quite large."
"But definitely not large enough for the lovable Levees, Essie Sue."
"Only on weekends until the end of the year."
"In your dreams."
Or my nightmares.
Copyright © 2002 by Sharon Kahn
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