Monday the Rabbi Took Off, by Harry Kemelman

When I began this series it was because the main character has the same name as my father, brother and nephew. To my surprise, I found a charming character-driven series of standalone mysteries that may have pre-dated the term “cozy” but utterly defines it.

Rabbi David Small has a congregation in small-town Massachusetts and in this volume he has reached the point where he really needs a rest, both physical and mental. He and his family go to Israel for an indefinite period of time and settle into life there, not knowing what the future holds. I enjoyed the perspective on Israel at this point, not too long after independence and before the later wars, but hardly a time of complacency.

Perhaps I have lost my interest in the series or perhaps this was a step down for the author, but I didn’t find the mystery compelling or even interesting. As a study of people, this book was still worth it, and I will continue with the series. But as a mystery, I thought it missed the mark.

I will give it four stars, but it’s really rounding up from 3.5.

To purchase your own copy:

Or better yet, go for the first book in the series, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late:


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