You gotta love Ruby Rothman, the Eternal, Texas, rebbitzen
(rabbi's wife) with a craving for bagels. Actually, she's the rabbi's widow when this engaging mystery begins, but it isn't until days after a member of the congregation pushes in front of Ruby in line at the Hot Bagel
and bites off more than she can chew--a little cyanide--that Ruby begins to wonder if there's a connection between the poisoned bagel and her husband's death a year ago in a hit-and-run accident. But right now she's got more immediate things to think about--like clearing the cloud of suspicion that's settled like flour on her friend Milt, the bagel baker, and avoiding the clutches of Essie Sue, the temple yenta, who's determined to make a shiddach
(match) between Ruby and the new rabbi of Temple Rita (don't ask). The action moves from East Texas to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, connected by a family feud and a cunning killer who's out to give Ruby more than a minor case of heartburn. Fax Me a Bagel
has some structural problems--too many plot points are worked out in a series of e-mails between Ruby and her friend Nan instead of being explicated in action and narrative; and Kahn has a tendency to tell instead of show. But Ruby is an appealing heroine, and this debut mystery has "series" written all over it. --Jane Adams
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From Publishers Weekly
In Eternal, Tex., Ruby Rothman, a 46-year-old rabbi's widow, calls upon her knowledge of the Jewish community and her skills as a savvy computer consultant in this entertaining debut. When the sister of the temple board's vice-chairman is fatally felled by a poisoned bagel, the police arrest the baker, Ruby's friend Milt. While filling in for him at the bakery and trying to figure out why anyone would want to kill the mousy woman, Ruby finds a note in her late husband's files warning him to stay away from Milt and his bakery. After she is almost hit by a car on her way home one night, she decides that her husband, who died in a hit-and-run, was murdered and that she's the next target. But why? She learns about two brothers who started in the cutthroat bagel business in New York in the 1930s and pieces together the family feud that brought Milt to Texas. Memories of older relatives and additional notes from her late husband's files suggest that his family may have been involved in the feud, and then the threats on her life get more serious. Although the direction of the plot is given away in the first chapter, the action unfolds at a smart pace as readers are given the inside scoop on rabbi selection and installation and the history of the bagel union in New York. With her low-key sense of humor and her perky inquisitiveness, Ruby is a welcome addition to the ranks of amateur female sleuths.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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