HOLY SMOKE by Frederick Ramsay


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A rabbi is yet again forced to use his skills in critical thinking to solve a murder.

Gamaliel, the Rabban of the Sanhedrin, interprets the law for all of Judea, which is suffering under repressive Roman rule in A.D. 29. When a badly burnt body is discovered behind the veil in the temple’s inner sanctum, the high priest, Caiaphas, is eager to write it off as divine punishment. Gamaliel and Caiaphas are always arguing over Caiaphas’ obsession with itinerant preachers like Jesus. Gamaliel, who feels that they are doing no harm, ignores Caiaphas’ wishes and enlists the aid of his friend, the physician Loukas. They quickly discover that the dead man was not a Jew, was a murder victim, and must have been brought to the inner sanctum by the killer, who bribed the Temple guards. Loukas’ Assyrian friend Ali bin Selah shares his interest in the healing arts and has brought Loukas a potent painkiller for his dying servant. But bin Selah’s activities while in Jerusalem arouse the rabbi’s suspicious nature. As the deaths mount, Gamaliel realizes that both he and Loukas are being followed and may be in danger from a killer whose motive remains unknown. Although Gamaliel ignores Caiaphas, he cannot ignore Pontius Pilate, who’s had good reason to admire the rabbi’s skills as a detective ever since he solved a murder in the king’s palace (The Eighth Veil, 2012). The Rabban regrets having to help Pilate, but he cannot overlook the violation of the Temple or the murders that have followed.

The second in a trilogy set in first-century Jerusalem not only offers a finally wrought mystery, but includes intriguing information on the religious and secular life of the period.

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0090-8
Page count: 260pp
Publisher: Poisoned Pen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2012


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