Just a strange little blend of a Chaim Potok novel, a non-Catholic JP Powers story, and an Agatha Christie mystery. This novel begins with a discussion between a couple members of a Jewish congregation and their rabbi. They are looking for a resolution on a conflict. The rabbi offers to hear their situation and offer his opinion. He even tells them they don’t have to abide. They tell a story about a ski trip in which one of the men feeling under the weather offers to drive one of the women home in an urgent situation. The car ends up getting fried from an oil leak. It’s a new car and the owner is apoplectic. The rabbi calmly suggests that because the man was driving the woman as a favor to the owner, he’s not responsible. Then he suggests that the owner is not responsible either as it’s a new car with a default (the oil leak). This sets the tone of the rabbi applying Talmudic scholarship to address a contemporary issue.
The novel then cuts to a discussion with the board members of the congregation who employs the rabbi. They are frustrated because while he’s a competent rabbi, he’s not very social, mostly looking to offer services, help with issues, and lead the meeting. This conversation with present later as a schism, especially when the rabbi is implicated (although there’s little doubt in his guilt) of a murder that happens near the temple, and a key piece of evidence ends up in his car.
The novel then deals with the investigation, a budding friendship between the rabbi and the lead detective, and the politics of the temple. It’s compelling in every scene and the discussions of faith and religion, especially against the backdrop of a detective series is really fun. Hopefully this is a series I can continue to enjoy.