An Abe Lieberman mystery
Abe Lieberman is a strong, sympathetic character, an Everyman whose love for his family is only matched by his quiet, zealous commitment to justice. "A figure out of Talmudic lore-endearing, wise in his crotchets, weary with his wisdom," says The Washington Post. He loves what he does, but it takes its toll as his commitment to what is right is sorely tested every day on the mean streets of Chicago. As a moral man, he is sometimes faced with some uncomfortable ethical choices in order to see that justice-rather than the letter of the law-is meted out.
And in Not Quite Kosher, the latest Abe Lieberman mystery by veteran Edgar Award-winning Stuart Kaminsky, our hangdog sleuth is up to his eyeballs in tsurris, the kind of trouble that will drive a man to madness. From tracking a pair of low-rent thieves who stumble into a heist way over their heads to finding out what happened to a man who predicted his own death in a bizarre twist of fate, not to mention planning for a grandson's bar mitzvah that threatens to send him to the poorhouse, Lieberman will do much to find a way to make everything right, even if it takes years off his life.
And his Irish partner, Bill Hanrahn, the Priest to Lieberman's Rabbi, is in trouble of his own making. For the woman he loves is the object of affection of one of the kingpins of the Asian crime syndicate in Chicago and the notion of this woman marrying anyone from a different culture is anathema. How far will he go to win the woman he loves? And at what cost?
Just another day in the lives of a pair of Chicago's most amiably odd detective team . . .
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You can always expect a witty, entertaining read from prolific Edgar-winner Kaminsky, and he delivers the goods in this seventh Lieberman novel (after 2000's The Big Silence). Abe Lieberman, the tolerant, justice-seeking Chicago homicide detective, needs the skills of a contortionist to manage all the crises in his life: two murder cases, his long-time partner Bill Hanrahan's impulsive decision to marry his sweetheart, Iris Chen, immediately (reception chez Lieberman), pressures from his synagogue fund-raising committee and preparations for his grandson's bar mitzvah, which Lieberman must bankroll. Meanwhile, his cholesterol is up and the roof needs repairs. With the skill of a master juggler, the author keeps all the parts of his story moving, alternating Lieberman's personal problems with the search for two inept hold-up men, one the accidental killer of forlorn merchant Arnold Sokol. Kaminsky traces the circuitous but inevitable downfall of Michael Wychovski, the smarter of the two thieves, as he tries to evade his pursuers after the death of Pryor, a dumbbell sidekick who might have stepped out of a Donald Westlake or Elmore Leonard novel. The cases collide when Pryor's body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan next to Sokol's. Although Kaminsky can plot with the best of them, his characters are the real delights of the book, as is the comfortable, symbiotic relationship between Hanrahan and Lieberman. FYI:Kaminsky is also the author of the Toby Peters, Porfiry Rostnikov and Lew Fonseca series.