Jewish mysteries - recommendations?

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Jewish mysteries - recommendations?

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Edited: Dec 1, 2009, 7:49 pm

Just this year I read Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series and loved them. They were my introduction to the world of mysteries, so I'm not sure where to go next.

Do you have any recommendations for more Jewish themed/charactered/authored mysteries? I think I like more 'cozy' works, but it's certainly no limitation.

Thanks in advance!

Dec 1, 2009, 8:09 pm

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Dec 1, 2009, 8:56 pm

There's Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small series.

Here's a list I got using the tagmash "Judaism+mysteries". Obviously a lot of Kellerman and Kemelman, but many other books as well.

Dec 2, 2009, 11:24 am

Don't know how heavily Jewish you would like the works to be, but one of my favorites is the Moe Prager series by Reed Farrel Coleman. Though a non-practicing Jew, Moe still struggles with the decisions he has made in his professional and personal life. Moe is a brooding, philosophical man. The series has received many critical accolades: very well-written, full characters, character-driven, noir style provocatively set with a great sense and feel for the 1970s. There are five Prager books, written from 2002--2008. Earlier ones are being reprinted by Busted Flush Press. Here is the series in order:
Walking the Perfect Square
Redemption Street
The James Deans
Soul Patch
Empty Ever After

Hope this helps.

Dec 2, 2009, 12:55 pm

Ayelet Waldman writes a series of mysteries; at least the second has a Jewish theme -- The Big Nap.

Also, this is the sort of thing that tagmash is great at --

try Judaism, mystery or Jewish, mystery (I note that Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union is high on those lists; trivia: Chabon and Waldman are married to each other.)

Dec 2, 2009, 9:08 pm

Thank you, everyone!

I hope you don't think I'm lazy; I did try tags and google. :P I just thought I'd check for personal recommendations, they're usually more on the spot.

The Prager series sounds great, magnumpigg.

Edited: Jan 17, 2010, 8:34 am

The late Stuart M. Kaminsky has a series featuring Det. Abe Lieberman -- a 60something Jewish detective in Chicago. Kaminsky has several different series and is an excellent writer.

Dec 2, 2009, 11:19 pm

I'm not sure this is exactly what you're looking for, but there's a series of mysteries by the husband-and-wife writing team known as Maan Meyers (Martin and Annette) that are set in succeeding generations of the same family through New York's history from its Dutch founding to modern times. Though the main character is a Dutch sheriff, he marries a Jewish woman and several of the books deal with Jewish issues/situations.

The first book in the series is The Dutchman. There are at least 6 or 7 to date, I believe.

Dec 3, 2009, 8:53 am

Read a cozy some time back called Fax Me A Bagel; I believe it's part of a series by Sharon Kahn ... the amateur sleuth is a rabbi's wife, I believe?

Dec 3, 2009, 1:48 pm

Fax Me a Bagel is the first book in the Ruby the Rabbi's wife mystery series. Some of the others include Never Nosg a Matzoh Ball and Don't Cry for Me Hot Pastrami.

You might want to check out this site which has a bibliography of Jewish mysteries

Dec 4, 2009, 4:48 pm

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Dec 10, 2009, 1:03 pm

I'm not Jewish, so keep that in mind. I loved the Rabbi Small books. I read them as they came out. Sometimes he seems to be a little unbending, but it's always for a reason. He uses reasoning and logic to solve the mystery. I wish some current mystery writers would read his books!

Dec 15, 2009, 9:44 pm

I really didn't enjoy the Sharon Kahn books. I have Chabon on my TBR list though.

Jan 6, 2010, 11:51 pm

Raisins and Almonds, by Kerry Greenwood.

Edited: Jan 7, 2010, 9:54 am

I really liked the Rachel Gold mysteries by Michael Kahn. Canaan Legacy is the first book. (link to series page didn't work because of space in link & I'm too tired to do html linkage thingy)

He also wrote The Mourning Sexton by Michael Baron. I liked that one even better in some ways because it went into the Jewish faith a in a little more detail. As a non-Jewish person, I learned a lot!! (A very good thing, imho)

Jan 7, 2010, 9:50 am

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Jan 7, 2010, 9:51 am

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Jan 7, 2010, 10:17 am

The Benny Cooperman books by Howard Engels perhaps?

Jan 8, 2010, 1:04 pm

Another vote for The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I think the Coen Bros. are working on a movie adaptation.

Jan 8, 2010, 5:57 pm

I gave up on The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I was lost with all the Yiddishisms and the plot was confusing too.

Jan 8, 2010, 10:24 pm

#15 skittles-I enjoyed Faye Kellerman first Decker and Lazarus books because of not being Jewish. I also learned a lot. I like to read about the customs and rites of religions and why they do them.

Jan 10, 2010, 9:55 am

David Kessler's Alex Sedaka series (e.g. Mercy, David Kessler) is about a Jewish lawyer in San Francisco. However, his Jewishness tends to be played down in the first book.

Jan 12, 2010, 2:45 pm

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Jan 18, 2010, 8:53 am

Did anyone mention the series by Daniel Silva whose protagonist is a Jewish art restorer? There is also a series set in Israel by Matt Beynon Rees. The one on my Kindle to-read list is A Grave in Gaza. They are really interesting.

Jan 18, 2010, 9:19 am

Janice Steinberg has a series about a San Diego public radio reporter, Margo Simon. Her Jewish background doesn't usually feature, but the fifth in the series Death in a City of Mystics is set in Israel, where her elderly mother has gone to study Jewish mysticism. I found this quite an enjoyable series: Margo is an interesting character and the settings (San Diego in most of the books, Israel here) are well described.

Jan 18, 2010, 12:26 pm

Ian Sansom's Mobile Library series features a Jewish librarian protagonist, Israel Armstrong. The fifth book of the series was an Early Reviewer selection this month: The Bad Book Affair. It was pretty ok.

Jan 18, 2010, 8:48 pm

David Liss's Benjamin Weaver novels are historical mysteries rather than cozies. The hero, Benjamin Weaver, is Jewish, and London's 18th century Jewish community features in the novels. A Conspiracy of Paper is the first in the series.

Jan 24, 2010, 10:15 pm

I also gave up on Yiddish Policeman's. But I really enjoyed Some Danger Involved which didn't have a Jewish protagonist, but was set in Victorian London among the Jewish population. It was really good.

Feb 4, 2010, 11:59 pm

I read Cross Bones a few months ago. Part of it takes place in Israel and there is a mystery surrounding Masada and the James Ossuary that was discovered several years ago.

Its part of the Temperance Brennan series, I think thats the one the Bones TV show is based off of.

Feb 5, 2010, 8:49 am

The Rabbi Small series was fabulous. Kemelman's use of Monday, Tuesday etc... In his titles caused him to run out of days. He didn't seem to write much after that. I don't know why. I also love the Dan Silva series.

Jun 9, 2010, 2:34 pm

Howard Engeljust received an award from the Canadian Jewish Book Awards for outstanding career as a Jewish writer. His Benny Cooperman is a great character and there are a lot of novels in the series.They were also made into a series of tv movies with Saul Rubinekplaying the lead.

Dec 23, 2010, 12:42 am

#24 I second your Daniel Silva "Gabriel Allon" series!!

The main character is a former Israeli intelligence operative that has a cover as an art restorer. He gets called back into action and the action is heart-stopping, fascinating, and amazing. Wow.

You learn plenty about the Holocaust and history as well. The author really grabs your attention!

In order:
The Kill Artist; The English Assassin; The Confessor; A Death In Vienna; Prince of Fire; The Messenger;The Secret Servant; Moscow Rules; The Defector; and The Rembrandt Affair.

Feb 12, 2011, 6:43 pm

Daniel Silva is one of the best with his Gabriel Allon series. Fantastic, you will like Silva.

Edited: Feb 22, 2011, 12:46 am

You might try these, concering Palestinian-American detective Ben Kamal and Israeli detective Danielle Barnea. The author is Jon Land and the books are:

1. The Walls of Jericho (1997)
2. The Pillars of Solomon (1999)
3. A Walk In The Darkness (2000)
4. Keepers of the Gate (2001)
5. Blood Diamonds (2002)
6. The Blue Widows (2003)
7. The Last Prophecy (2004)

Feb 22, 2011, 2:46 pm

The Lieberman mysteries by Stuart Kaminsky.
The Dead Don't Lie is excellent.

Feb 23, 2011, 7:55 pm

The Fifth Servant by Wishnia is set primarily in 16th century Prague. I enjoyed it a lot. Not a cozy, by a long shot, though. The historical details and descriptions were fascinating.

Aug 20, 2011, 6:33 pm

A late addition! I very much liked Crimes of the City by Robert Rosenberg - part of his Avram Cohen series of mysteries about Jerusalem detective and Dachau survivor Avram Cohen

Aug 20, 2011, 8:34 pm

Also Marissa Piesman's Nina Fischman series.

Sep 29, 2011, 8:08 am

You may want to look up these authors -
Nancy Cohen - the Marla Shore books
David Delman- the Jacob and Helen Horowitz series
Howard Engle - The Benny Cooperman series
Michael Kahn - the Rachel Gold series
Rochelle Krich - the Jessie Davis series
Reggie Nadelson - the Archie Cohen series
Caroline Roe - the Isaac of Girona series
Roger Simon - the Moses Wine series

May 21, 2012, 1:30 pm

You may want to look at this award-winning bestseller, a Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code:
The Torah Codes by Ezra Barany

Aug 29, 2012, 10:11 am

You could also try the mysteries by Batya Gur which are set in Jerusalem and feature police superintendent Michael Ohayon. They include:
1. Saturday Morning murder
2. Literary Murder
3. Murder on a Kibbutz
4. Murder Duet
5. Bethlehem Road Murder
6. Murder in Jerusalem

Aug 29, 2012, 10:17 am

I read an article in The Tablet that mentioned Libi Astaire. While I haven't read any of her work (yet!), a look at her website intrigued me.

Aug 29, 2012, 5:55 pm

Bodie and Brock Thoene have written the Jerusalem Chronicles series that are very good. The A.D. Chronicles by the same are also very good, although they focus on the years after the birth of Jesus. As far as I can tell, they very accurately portray life in the Middle East at that time.

Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva - wonderful. I did a review on his latest, The Fallen Angel. Silva's books are very instructive.

Faye Kellerman's series with Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus are very enjoyable.

Curses on forgetfulness! Several years ago, I read a mystery in which Will Shakespeare became involved with a Jewish family in England during the Inquisition, and the problems faced by Jews all across Europe during the Inquisition. But I can't remember the title or the author! Sorry.

Aug 30, 2012, 4:52 am

Ooh nice thread. I loooooved Yiddish Policeman's Union, it's my favorite of Chabon's work. Thomas Harris' Black Sunday has the Mossad follow a couple terrorists to the US, but there's probably more crime/thriller than mystery to it; DeMille's By the Rivers of Babylon is a similarish terrorists hating Jews (this time against Israel rather than the US) deal but again there's more crime/thriller than mystery. I can't think if I've really read any solid mystery type relating to Jews aside of Chabon's... OH! No, wait! The Last Nazi was... well okay the details are not exactly believable, not entirely realistic what he does, but it was a nice bit of mystery before the truth is revealed, and plenty of suspense afterwards. Yeah that's pretty much all I can think of that I've read, off the top of my head. Most of the Jewish stuff I read is auto/bios or just more about living as a Jew, like Chaim Potok's work, and such; somehow my Jewish reading & my thriller/mystery reading haven't had much crossover.

Sep 24, 2012, 4:03 pm

The final solution by Michael Chabon is a fascinating meditation on a what-if situation: Sherlock Holmes lives long enough to experience the Holocaust. Subtle writing, a mysterious atmosphere, and a beloved character combine in this fine work.

Oct 28, 2012, 7:12 pm

Hotel Noir by Casper Silk features a Jewish protagonist and has been called a story of "high-stakes Tikkun, fearlessly told."

Oct 30, 2012, 4:49 pm

#30> There are some non-day of the week Rabbi Small mysteries. In my store I have "The Day the Rabbi Resigned," "Someday the Rabbi Will Leave" and "Conversations with Rabbi Small." Here's the full list of Rabbi Small books:

Nov 12, 2012, 3:44 pm

I recently finished John Lawton's latest Inspector Troy mystery set during WW II, called A Lily of the Field. It's got some real emotion evoking writing regarding being a jew in Vienna prior to German annexation and after; some strong concentration camp scenes, too. Reading the prior novel Second Violin will help to better understand some background parts of A Lily of the Field, but it's not crucial that one do so.

Nov 16, 2012, 7:12 pm

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The lead character in The Silk Code - Phil D'Amato - is a Marano Jew.

Sep 19, 2014, 7:16 pm

I had a great time reading Benny Goldfarb, Private "I" by Howard Feigenbaum. It starts off at a car wash in Los Angeles, then quickly moves to Colombia.

Although the book was full of intrigue, adventure, and budding romance, it was the the Benny Goldfarb character himself I found to be quite intriguing. He is more than a just a man with unique and creative inroads to crime-solving. His whole approach to life is somewhat like a dance. He ebbs and flows through impossible situations. He takes time to reflect on what he is experiencing, when you least expect that reflection might even be possible in that moment. This kind of detail had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out how Benny Goldfarb, Private "I" might handle each new situation, wanting to know him a little better. I was not disappointed.

The book moved along at a very nice pace for me, as I found myself howling with laughter one moment, then wanting to bite my nails the next.

Edited: Oct 27, 2015, 1:23 am

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Edited: Dec 2, 2015, 7:30 am

The Albert Samson novels by Michael Z. Lewin

Jan 11, 2016, 12:57 pm

I loved Enemy in the Garden. I could not put the book down once I started. I felt my heart beat faster during some of the events that unfolded. it is written from the view of a jewish woman in Long Island in the 70s but it could be today. The hatred of people for others still exists and is so profoundly detailed out in this book. it will stir up so many emotions and reminds us about the way Jewish people were regarded in Europe and US. Sad but so true. her descriptions in every detail were so precise I felt like I was watching a movie. Great read. great author.

Jan 11, 2016, 12:58 pm

I loved Enemy in the Garden by Harriet Pike. I could not put the book down once I started. I felt my heart beat faster during some of the events that unfolded. it is written from the view of a jewish woman in Long Island in the 70s but it could be today. The hatred of people for others still exists and is so profoundly detailed out in this book. it will stir up so many emotions and reminds us about the way Jewish people were regarded in Europe and US. Sad but so true. her descriptions in every detail were so precise I felt like I was watching a movie. Great read. great author.

Jul 15, 2016, 2:41 pm

Of course, I follow closely and early on join the library reserve list for Daniel Silva and Reed Farrel Coleman. I'm not Jewish but have many Jewish friends and I've always been a bit jealous of the closeness of famly, especially as evidenced in Coleman's books. The Moe Prager series is an absolute gem and, now Coleman is writing a series featuring a Murphy(!) and has just published the second of his Jesse Stone novels approved by the estate of Robert B. Parker.

Jul 15, 2016, 2:51 pm

The Canvas, by Benjamin Stein. The book itself is a puzzle, if not a mystery.