Monday, September 8, 2014

Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet

Back in the mists of time (when I was in high school), I gave Harry Kemelman's Rabbi David Small series a whirl. I don't have reviews from that era of reading and I apparently didn't even think enough of (or read enough of) my sampling to think it merited an entry with a star rating in my reading log. But it seems to me that Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet (1976) is the very book I tried and didn't connect with. So, when it came up as I did a search for a suitable "Silver" book that I would have to borrow to read for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenge, I decided to give Rabbi Small another try. Unfortunately, I have to report that he still doesn't do a whole lot for me. Oh, the plot is serviceable enough, but the characters just don't engage me. According to the book flap on my library's edition, Rabbi Small is supposed to be one of the "most endearing sleuths in modern fiction." I'm afraid that I just don't see it; he comes across as rather bland to me. But...let's talk about the plot for a moment.

This sixth outing for Rabbi Small involves the mysterious death of an elderly man with his fair share of enemies. Old man Kestler dies from an apparent mix-up in medication. Was it an accident on the part of the dispensing pharmacist? Did a family member give him too much--thinking if one is good then two is better? Or was there some malice aforethought? When Kestler's son starts stirring up trouble with threats of a malpractice suit against the doctor involved, Police Chief Hugh Lanigan begins to quietly investigate...taking Rabbi Small into his confidence along the way. But when Lanigan arrests a troubled young man who has come home to his father's pharmacy and who had a past history of difficulty with Kestler, the good rabbi begins to investigate in earnest and finds ties to his own congregation and a planned real estate deal.

As mentioned above, the plot is serviceable. But it is also uninspired and not quite what I expect of a murder mystery (spoiler--in faint-colored font: highlight apparent blank area if interested). I expect an apparent murder to actually be murder. Not death because of unforeseen circumstances. Mischief was planned...but not death.So  I cry "Foul!" It's hard to stay interested when the mystery isn't entirely what one has bargained for. And the characters didn't engage me either. They just seemed to be going through the motions of a role in a mystery story. The book was a quick read for all that and decent. But I'm fairly certain that I won't be revisiting Rabbi Small again. ★★

This satisfies the "Book You Have to Borrow" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card and gives me my third Silver Bingo.


fredamans said...

Not much good came out of 1976 but yours truly here. :-)
Think I'm alright for reading this one. Great review!

Katherine P said...

I have almost picked up a book from this series a time or two but never did. From the sounds of it I think I'll give it a miss unless I'm all out of things to read. While it sounds okay it sounds just okay and there's too many good books for an okay read!