Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman is my first book for the What's In A Name 2019 challenge, which is being hosted by The Carolina Book Nook, covering the category, 'A Month or Day of the Week'.
It's also my first book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge and my second for her Calendar of Crime challenge covering the February category of 'A book title starting with 'F'.
The town of Barnard's Crossing in Massachusetts has its first rabbi: David Small. He's been there for almost a year but isn't popular with all in the Jewish community. Some feel that their rabbi should be outgoing, larger than life, but Small is quiet, introspective, bookish. There's talk of not renewing his contract but the board that deals with these things is very much split.
No one is prepared though for The Rabbi to come under suspicion for murder. The body of a young woman is found in the car-park of the syngogue. Then her purse is found in the rabbi's car which had been parked there overnight because he'd decided to walk instead of drive home late that night. The chief of police, Lannigan, doesn't really feel that David has murdered the girl but has to investigate properly. The girl, Elspeth Bleech, was a live-in mother's help who apparently had few friends and certainly no male friends. So how come she was pregnant?
I have Nan at Letters From a Hill Farm to thank for this recommendation. In fact she recommended the series years ago but I never did get around to it even though I'd downloaded this first book to my Nook. Anyway, finally I got to it and wasn't disappointed.
It's a bit of a slow-burner, Harry Kemelman takes the time to set the scene, tell us about some of the people who make up the Jewish community in Barnard's Crossing, focus a bit on the main protagonists, especially Rabbi David Small, and I liked that. It's nice to read a book that is not in a tearing haste to get to the murder or whatever else is the central theme of the story. I personally found the details about the Jewish religion fascinating. I had no idea it was so different to Christianity or that rabbis really are *not* the Jewish version of a priest or vicar. I love it when books teach me things like this.
David Small is such a multi-faceted character. I love how under-stated the author has made him, 'other-worldly' almost in his bookishness... 'away with the fairies' we used to say. But that doesn't mean he isn't sharp when it comes to investigating a murder. He doesn't actually do that much of that in this first book, that's left to Chief Lannigan, but the two men co-operate and share ideas and I liked what their relationship became, I hope that continues in subsequent books because, yes, I will certainly be reading more.
And Friday the Rabbi Slept Late also gives me a book for Massachusetts in my ongoing (since 2011!) personal challenge to read a book set in every American state.