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Fax Me a Bagel
By Sharon Kahn

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Fax Me a Bagel

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Fax Me a Bagel
A Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife, Mystery
By Sharon Kahn
Wheeler Publishing - Large Print Edition (2005)
ISBN: 1-59722-048-5
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - October 28, 2005

Fax Me a Bagel is a unique cozy mystery by Sharon Kahn. The amateur detective that is the focus of this story is Ruby Rothman. Ruby is the widow of an esteemed Rabbi whose congregation was in Eternal, Texas. Ruby is decidedly a member of the Reformed movement of Judaism. By this I mean that she comes across as treating Judaism as more of a cultural decoration than a spiritual way of life. In many ways, this story was reminiscent, in both style and religiosity, to the Rabbi Slept Late series by Harry Kemelman.

That said, Fax Me a Bagel is a fine book that is often humourous and which provides some unique insights into the organization and culture of a reformed congregation. The story starts out innocently enough. That is, until Marla Margolis drops dead in front of Ruby in The Hot Bagel, the local bagel shop / bakery. The police soon determine that Marla died after taking a bite of a poisoned bagel, and the finger of blame is quickly pointed at Milt, the bakery owner. Milt is Ruby's friend, and she soon finds herself in the thick of the murder investigation as she tries to clear her friend's name and reputation, while also finding the real killer. To complicate matters, Ruby, as the Rabbi's widow, is still expected to perform certain social functions and to maintain a certain 'standard' dress and decorum that are arbitrarily decided by the members of her husband's congregation. Even in the reformed movement, once a Rebbitzen (Rabbi's wife), you are a Rebbitzen for life.

Parts of this story are told via emails between Ruby and her friend Nan, which allows the author to easily impart information that might have otherwise slowed down the pace of the story if that information was shown within the actions of the story. As events unfold, Ruby begins to question if Marla's death had some connection to the death of her beloved husband, a year ago. Worse, it soon becomes clear to Ruby, that she is the killer's next target. Can Ruby get to the truth before the killer gets to her. And if she can, can she also steer clear of those members of the congregations that are bent upon marrying her off to the new Rabbi?

Fax Me a Bagel is an entertaining, easygoing read that is perfect for those times when you want something enjoyable to read, but also want something that will not be too taxing. The story has some interesting plot elements, and its 'Jewish' theme makes it a bit out of the ordinary for a cozy. While not as strong of a mystery as it could have been, the story is still intriguing, and you may well find yourself reading this book in one sitting.


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