By Sharon Kahn

Scribner, 1998
ISBN 0-684-84737-X

Reviewed by S. E. Warwick

This is the first in what I hope will be a series about a Rabbiís widow from Eternal, Texas, who keeps getting mixed up in perilous situations. Sharon Kahn uses a wicked sense of humor to keep twanging your funny bone while she strews clues and Yiddish wisdom along the way.

If youíre Baptist, or Lutheran, or Buddhist, donít let the Jewishness of the setting put you off. Every congregation has their own version of Essie Sue Margolis, you know, the one with the perfect house, perfect children, who never has a hair out of place and always calls on you when the toilet overflows.

When we meet Ruby, the Rabbiís widow, sheís trying to get her life together after her husband, Rabbi Stu, was killed in a hit and run accident. She has a small computer consulting business that gives shape to her life and pays the bills. She treats herself regularly to visits to the Hot Bagel where the bagels feed her body and the friendship of the owner, Milt, one of Rabbi Stuís best friends, nourishes her soul. One day, the woman in front of Ruby on the bagel line keels over from a poisoned bagel and weíre off.

Kahn lets us read email between Ruby and her long time friend, Nan. This is a charming device that moves the action along by having Nan ask the questions going through the readerís mind.

While the puzzle is presented and solved, we learn a great deal about the bagel business, especially how it got started in New York and where the word bagel came from.

Before itís all over, questions that have risen faster than bagel dough are answered in a satisfactory way. The humor gives rise to giggles more relaxing than a hot bubble bath.

A serious craving for a real bagel with a smear and some nice lox is the only drawback to this one. I hope Sharon Kahn reports on more of Rubyís adventures real soon.

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