Retired Los Angeles private eye Amos Parisman probes the death of a controversial rabbi.
Parisman debuts on the mystery scene, bravely flaunting his Yiddishkeit in his first-person narrative. Unfortunately, he loses his street cred by the end of Chapter 1, mangling both Hebrew and Yiddish translations and transliterations with equal abandon. Alav hashalom (not le sholem, Parisman’s weirdly French-sounding rendition) really does more or less mean “rest in peace,” but twisting alter kocker into alte katchke (which would rhyme with tchotchke) does not make it closer to meaning “old duck.” Parisman’s gumshoe chops come across as a little more authentic. He’s reasonably skeptical when Howie Rothbart hires him to investigate the death of Rabbi Ezra Diamant of Shir Emmet, a wealthy West Hollywood congregation. Why would the board suspect that the demise of their overweight, middle-aged spiritual leader, who keeled over into his matzo ball soup lunch at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax, was anything but the natural consequences of his poor food and exercise choices? Rothbart’s repeated claim that Diamant rubbed people the wrong way does little to convince Parisman he’s looking at a murder. But the subsequent death by crowbar of Diamant’s doctor, Dora Ewing, does. By now Amos has grown cautious enough to hire ex-wrestler Omar Villasenor to provide some much-needed muscle, and the ill-assorted pair provide an entertaining tour of LA while they track down a killer with a surprising motive.
Probably worthy of an encore—if the author gets a dialogue coach.