Monday, July 27, 2015

Rampage on Rogers Avenue Begins New Favorite Series, for moi, by David Y. B. Kaufmann

When I had the chance to read Assault in Forgotten Alley and realize there was a novella that started the series, A Scotch and Herring Mystery, I immediately downloaded Rampage on Rogers Avenue to meet the main characters right from the beginning. I am certainly happy I did! 

As soon as I started reading, I was reminded of two of my favorite long-time authors, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman... Jonathan is know for his Alex Delaware series, with two men as a team, Alex being the outside "partner..." Where, in this case, the main character is the police officer and his outside "partner" is a Rabbi...

How did Faye's writing come into play? Well, the Rabbi's wife is a strong character and is the one who brings in the Jewish religious issues as part of the daily living of the group. 

Perhaps I was reaching to connect both authors, but I believe the merge of Jewish life is much more prominent in this new series, than that of Jonathan's series, so Faye's work had to be predominant in the comparison. If you enjoy one or both of these great writers, then I highly recommend you consider reading David Y. B. Kaufmann!


The parchment of the Mezuzah

“My husband prefers his Hebrew name now. Beryl.”
 “I’ll try to remember,” McCallum said, hoping he sounded sufficiently agreeable, yielding. “But I’ve known him as Drew since we were kids. Maybe I should stick with Rabbi Aldala.” He smiled, hoping she’d take it as a joke. 
“If that’s easier for you.” Had things gotten so bad that it mattered if he called his best friend by his English name rather than his Hebrew name? McCallum hadn’t known about this custom until Aldala’s Bar Mitzvah. Two names, one for insiders, one for outsiders. Sort of like a secret language. Or handshake. Had Drew ever used his Hebrew name - what was it again? - until he got married, until his wife insisted he use it?
 “Come in,” she said. He’d been standing there like some mindless robot. She opened the door and stepped back, allowing him to enter. He wiped his feet on the mat. He ignored the hat and coat rack on his left and followed her down the narrow hallway...

She was such a small woman, was Faigy Aldala, barely five foot. But she was a force to be reckoned with. Anyone who could keep up with Drew - keep ahead of him - had to be one strong woman...

He turned and smiled. Standing before him was his best friend - half an inch taller, twenty pounds lighter, with blondish hair and a beard. “How are you Drew?” He extended his hand. Drew Aldala ignored the hand and gave James a hug, but withdrew quickly. 
“Sorry,” James said, referring to the gun. “Even out of uniform, I have to wear it. Part of the job...”

Aldala half-smiled and his eyebrow went up. “What have you got?” McCallum relaxed, pulling the manila folder out from his trench coat. “Breaking and entering. Robbery. Assault and battery, possible attempted murder.” “Of Lazar Doninger, the pawnbroker.” McCallum nodded. “What have you got?” “One diamond cuff link, a gold plated switchblade that looks like a Swiss army knife, no cash to speak of, an unrifled cash register, a lot of broken trinkets, and a trashed establishment.”

Aldala scratched his eyebrow. “It’s Shabbat. I don’t work on Shabbat, unless it’s life or death. This isn’t.”
 “I know. But if you could take a detour on your way home and walk by the pawn shop...just to take a look before who knows who gets to it and makes a mess of the mess. I can’t cordon it off for twenty-four hours.” 
“You could...”

McCallum swallowed. “Well, the first thing I noticed was the door frame, of course.”
 “Really? What about the bubble gum machine?” “The bubble gum machine?” 
“Yes. It had stood outside the left-hand side of the store - there was a circle the size of the base that had a quarter inch of snow in it, compared to the several inches piled up around it haphazardly. It had been moved almost, but not quite, in front of the grocery store on the left.”
“I didn’t see a bubble gum machine...

“The door frame?” 
“I saw you examining it,” McCallum said, taking a fish cake - without horseradish. “The mezuzah was missing,” Aldala said. 
“Hmmm. The horseradish kills the taste. These are quite good plain. How do you know it was missing?”
 “The discolored wood, the splinters, the bent nail. It had been there and ripped out.”
 “So?” McCallum shrugged. “Maybe Doninger had a change of heart - you did. He just went in reverse. Or was embarrassed. From what I remember of the mezuzah, it doesn’t mix well with a pawn shop.”
 “A mezuzah belongs on every door of every Jewish house,” Aldala said earnestly.


Rampage on Rogers Avenue:
A Scotch & Herring Mystery

 by David Y. B. Kaufmann

There is a mystery within the mystery regarding the relationship between James and Drew. They had been friends since they were very young, but something had occurred within the past few years that caused their separation. This is an ongoing issue that continues into the next book, and perhaps will enter future novels. 

In this first mystery, we enjoy the first encounter of the two friends. Drew is now married and has become a Rabbi. His father was a police officer, killed in the line of duty... Although James had known about some of this, and had even attended events in the background, they had not spoken...

Eight forty-five. Good thing Drew had a late-start

 congregation. With luck, he’d have fifteen
 minutes with his friend - and partner of futures past.
 He hefted the manila folder. 
“Consulting with Sherlock Holmes.”

I wasn't quite sure whether James had taken advantage of the Jewish connection of his latest case in order to contact his old friend, and partner. Readers will begin to find little tidbits out that add a personal flavor to the series...Especially the development of Faigy, Drew's new wife...

Especially enjoyable is the interaction between the two friends as it relates to a case... James, by the way, had Drew's father as his mentor while Drew listened and observed his father in action as he handled his cases. Of the two, Drew is the Sherlock Holmes to his Watson, James McCallum... 

James has an interesting background which will be explored more fully in the novel--review coming next. Apparently, James' father was on the other side of the law, BUT, was very good Friends with Police Officer Aldala, allowing the two young boys to become close friends. However, James has yet to be totally accepted as the new, and only, detective in his precinct and creates some prickly situations when he refuses to condone any type of prejudicial slurs against the Jews living in the community...

Another little tidbit, quite surprising, is the Rabbi's interest and collection of hero action comic books! I look forward to seeing how this is worked into the upcoming books!

A pawn shop has been broken into, the owner beaten...normally I wouldn't do an excerpt about the victim, but in this case, it brought back a fun memory from my childhood...

McCallum watched the two leave, then entered the back room. It looked like an expanded closet. A desk, a wheeled chair, a folding chair, and a man slumped, half-sitting, face up against the back wall. Doninger was dressed in a suit, shoes shined,
thinning hair brylcreemed. 

McCallum knelt, felt the man’s chest, then the pulse in the neck. He listened to the man’s breathing. Steady. He scanned the body, checking for broken bones. Note to self, he thought, take the rest of that CPR course already. 
He felt around the man’s head, gently, and found the lump. His hand came away sticky. A surface cut, as far as he could tell. He tensed in frustration. The same frustration he felt every time he saw a victim, any victim. The same frustration that had fired him when he was ten and solving the mysteries of the Hardy Boys, Batman and Holmes, but always, always after someone had been hurt. Just once, he wanted Mike Barnett to open the door before the victim got machine gunned. It never happened. 
He knew detectives didn’t prevent crimes, they solved them. He’d become one anyway. Something else he owed Aldala’s father.

This mystery is not anywhere near the complexity of Assault in Forgotten Alley. It does a great job, however, of seeing  the clues gathered by James, then Drew, and then readers listen while the two regurgitate the details almost ad nauseum as is sometimes the case for difficult cases. I enjoyed the back-and-forth banter and quickly decided this author had a new fan! Actually, you see, readers will either being learning new things, or being reminded of the symbols of the Jewish Religion while working to solve a difficult mystery! Loved it!


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