The Return of the Rabbi Detective

Posted on January 31, 2007

Hat tip and thanks to SoccerDad for both his link and the reference to Daled Amos’ post, asking Why Are There So Few Rabbi Detectives?

Fans of Harry Kemelman’s (z”l) Rabbi Small mysteries, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s Rabbi Winter mysteries, and Faye Kellerman’s Orthodox Jewish woman/cop-husband mysteries may be looking for good Jewish fiction/mysteries.

I’m happy to add my full-time rabbi/part-time detective to the waning mix. Here’s what I said over at Daled Amos:

Although I’m a newcomer on the scene, I write a published Jewish fiction series that’s a twist on the rabbi-detective mysteries. Not technically mysteries because there’s no murder (yet), these are part mystery, part slice-of-life novels representing contemporary American Judaism.

The protagonist is Conservative Rabbi David Cohen, joined in the series by a Reform colleague and her Israeli-born secular husband, a Minneapolis cop. The second book welcomes the addition of a couple of Orthodox rabbis who are crucial to the plot.

Interwoven with the plot are textual references and deeper explorations of Torah and Jewish thought, bringing depth and perspective to his job, family, congregation and the larger story.

The first in the series, “Destined to Choose” was released in 2003. The second will come out this fall. You can read more, including the first chapter, at

I’ve long believed that we need updated versions of the rabbi detective, ones in which today’s issues are as much at play as the plot problem to be solved. I’ve worked very hard to present a compelling ensemble of characters that span movements and philosophies, and to write books in which readers can see themselves and relate. I address this in somewhat more detail in an interview transcribed here:

The next book comes out this fall, and I look forward to being able to say that the rabbi detective stories are far from dead.

1 Comment

  1. benning

    Harry Kemelman’s Rabbi Small mysteries (of which I read all), and Faye Kellerman’s Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker series (which I am re-reading, along with the Spenser series by Robert Parker) are favorites of mine. I remember reading the Rabbi Small books shortly after the first appeared (On Saturday The Rabbi Slept Late?). I enjoyed learning, even if in a small way, about Judaism. Faye Kellerman added to that, in a very entertaining way, and continues to teach me. Both authors made Judaism accessible.

    A Protestant, I find that learning about my own religion’s roots in Judaism is a way of broadening my perspective and my own Faith.

    I’ll have to find your book, Ma’am! While I have the extra shekels!

    Write On!

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