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Mort Halbman is the prime suspect in an arson investigation when his family home burns down, and he feels compelled to continually return to the ruins and to the memories the place still holds for him.
Haunted by the memories of his former home and life, Mort Halbman risks everything in a daring attempt at a last shot at redemption. Halbman is a crotchety, divorced, 65-year-old garment manufacturer, who laments losing the one true love of his life, the Montreal Expos. Now the dream home he built in the late 1960s in the exclusive Montreal suburb of Hampstead, where he lived with his family for 20 years, has burned down under mysterious circumstances, andMort finds himself the prime suspect in an arson investigation.
Meanwhile, his estranged gay son, Jacob, has announced that he’s getting married and wants Mort to participate in the rabbi-officiated same-sex ceremony along with his ex-wife, Mona, and her insufferable boyfriend, Gordon, Canada’s book reviewer extraordinaire. It’s the last thing Mort wants to do. He feels compelled to continually return in his Jaguar to the burned-out ruin of his former home, and to the memories the place still holds for him. With pathos and humour, Halbman Steals Home tells the story of Mort’s daring attempt to risk everything for a last shot at redemption.
Rotchin's talents for character are on fine display in the darkly comical Mort Halbman. At 65, he's an incorrigible curmudgeon yearning to make amends for his former missteps. A diehard Montreal Expos fan, Halbman pilots his Jaguar to a tony Canadian enclave to see the house he built 35 years ago for his family. A suspicious fire has devoured the home, but Halbman returns again and again, gaining the attention of authorities who accuse him of arson. Complicating matters is his pesky ex-wife, Mona (who he divorced in their seventh year of marriage) and her boyfriend; Halbman's new love interest; and Jacob, his gay son, who's scouting for rabbis to officiate his marriage. "It may be too late for you, but he deserves a shot at happiness," Mona tells Halbman. A plethora of Jewish jabs and general calamity follow, with Rotchin doing a decent job of keeping plot points simmering in a narrative that incorporates hot-button issues like gay marriage, vengeful ex-lovers, and the power of redemption. As impressively crafted as his debut novel, The Rent Collector, Rotchin's follow-up will entertain those searching for an uncomplicated, engaging read.