ONE FINE DAY THE RABBI BOUGHT A CROSS by Harry Kemelman
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ONE FINE DAY THE RABBI BOUGHT A CROSS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rabbi Small goes on vacation to Jerusalem--where the intinerary includes earnest theological discussions, uneasy encounters with other American Jews abroad, and a murder mystery that's laboriously contrived but basically see-through. Having made a promise to anxious parents back in Massachusetts, one of Small's first stops is a visit to Ish-Tov, nÉe Jordan Goodman, a young American ""Baal Tshuyah"" (born-again Jew) who has become a devout yeshiva student. By coincidence, next door to Ish-Tov's old-city yeshiva is the home of James Skinner, an importer whom Rabbi Small met on the plane from the US. By further coincidence, a dead body turns up in Skinner's back yard--where a plumber's ditch has been left open (for possible archaeological exploration). And, by furthest coincidence, the body therein is that of tourist Prof. Abraham Grenish, a Jew with Arab leanings. . .who comes from the same hometown as the Smalls and Ish-Tov. . .which makes the young man a prime murder suspect. This unlikely tangle (which fails to conceal an obvious culprit) is a far cry from the superior puzzle that made Someday the Rabbi Will Leave one of Kemelman's best efforts. More strained than usual, too, are the debates on religious issues and Rabbi Small's run-ins with ill-tempered congregants (a cartoonish bunch this time). But Kemelman fans will probably be pleased nonetheless--thanks to an often-engaging supporting cast (especially an elderly hotel-clerk who's a key witness), the easygoing narration, and the sketchy yet evocative Jerusalem backgrounds.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1987
Publisher: Morrow