Anna King’s Adele (The Rabbi’s Mother: Book One)* is an intriguing mystery, light romance, and coming of age story all in one. It features Adele and Sol, members of New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community who join forces to solve the crime that put Sol’s once vibrant mother into a coma, clinging to life. One is an attractive and youthful 75-year-old mother of a rabbi with emerging clairvoyant skills and a new purpose in life. The other is a 17-year-old boy with dreams of attending Harvard and of finally losing his virginity to his unconventionally beautiful girlfriend, about whom he had once written a poem “where he compared her to an exclamation point, not a poem he ever showed to her because he wasn’t sure how she’d take it.” Adele and Sol are a quirky, unlikely pair racing to solve a mystery and bring Sol’s mother back from the brink of death.
“Anna King” is one of the nom de plumes of Josephine Carr, who has previously published novels through HarperCollins, Penguin/NAL, and Dial Book for Young Readers. She has embarked on a new indie endeavor, Three Kings Books, through which she has published Adele. She is also the author of a blog, CarrTalks,** which gives readers an opportunity to get to know the woman behind the book. On it, she discusses a range of subjects, including the challenges and triumphs of self-publishing and other insights into her craft. In one post, Writing Jewish,** she responds to a question about how she was able to “write Jewish” without having been born Jewish.
King/Carr uses her knowledge of observant Judaism, which she learned over thirty years from her Jewish in-laws, to create an interesting setting for a satisfying paranormal mystery. It took me some time to get used to the occasional Hebrew words in the novel — a glossary of terms may have helped — but these words and phrases added to the authentic feel of the book. The book depicts an affluent, close-knit Jewish community who rally around Sol and his family with prayers and an endless supply of food. The community members are shocked to learn that such a violent crime could happen to one of them, possibly even committed by one of them. Though King/Carr addresses this issue in the context of a fictional Orthodox Jewish community, it’s a universal perception about the prevalence of crime and victimization: many people from a variety of communities believe that crime is one of those things that only affects other people, even when they believe the incidence of violence is rising in general.
Overall, Adele (The Rabbi’s Mother: Book One) is an engaging, character-driven story. I enjoyed Adele’s feisty personality, honesty, and wit. It’s refreshing to read a book starring a sexy, 75-year-old femme fatale, one who readily shares her style tips with inquiring minds. May we all grow “old” — not that Adele would approve of the word — as gracefully as Adele has. I am looking forward to following her next adventure in Book Two.
Today through Friday, October 26, 2012, the ebook of Adele (The Rabbi’s Mother: Book One) is available for FREE on Kindle.
*The author sent me a copy of her novel for an unbiased review.
**Update 3/22/13: The author’s blog is no longer available. I removed the broken links.