Unleavened Deadby Ilene Schneider
As she looks into
Two members of Rabbi Aviva Cohen's congregation are found dead, victims, they say, of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. But Aviva has info that leads her to doubt it was an accident. Then, police suspect Aviva's niece's partner in a hit-and-run death. Aviva is sure the woman is innocent, even though her SUV has a body-sized dent on the hood.
As she looks into the two disparate cases, Aviva discovers they may be connected, and her amateur sleuthing takes a sinister turn that involves sexual abuse of teenage girls, money laundering, stolen identities, and an FBI investigation. Once again, her curiosity has put her life in jeopardy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first six women ordained as a rabbi in the US, hasn't decided yet what (or who) she wants to be when she grows up. In her current incarnation, she is Coordinator of Jewish Hospice for Samaritan Hospice in Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia.
She is the author of two other books. The first, the cozy mystery Chanukah Guilt (Swimming Kangaroo Books, 2007), was nominated for the Deadly Ink Stasher Award for Best Mystery of 2007; was named as one of 2007's Top Ten Read by My Shelf; and was chosen as a Reviewers Choice Book, by the Midwest Book Review.
The second, the non-fiction Talk Dirty Yiddish: Beyond Drek (Adams Media, 2008) was praised by The Jewish Weekly Forward, the oldest and largest independent national Jewish newspaper: "Such a breezy, engaging book, I should be so lucky to write. Ilene Schneider, mazel tov."
You can read about Chanukah Guilt and Ilene's other writings at www.rabbiauthor.com, and can contact her at email@example.com.
- Oak Tree Press
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What a fun, sassy Rabbi. I'm talking about the fictional Rabbi Aviva Cohen, although I suspect the author is equally fun and sassy. Unleavened Dead contains a bucketful of fully formed characters, each unique and each flawed in just the right way. The character conflicts yield lots of tension and humor without becoming slapstick. Toss in the pressures of preparing for Passover, her annual job performance review and the return of her ex- and Aviva should have enough on her plate. But as the bodies start to drop, she has to protect those she loves and that means finding out the real story behind the deaths. The mystery has enough twists and turns to keep any fan happy, and the background societal issues Schneider includes (employment loss, interfaith and same-sex couple marriages) are expertly interwoven into the fabric of the story. I had not read the first book in the series (Chanukah Guilt), and that was not a problem. This story stands on its own (but if you are someone who prefers to start at the beginning of a series, go for it).
Rabbi Aviva is back— and never in better form— if never more stressed. The pressure of Passover preparations with a wedding the night before, Aviva's complicated relationship with her ex-husband and turmoil in her niece's life should be enough, but then people close to Aviva start dying in suspicious circumstances. And then the mob shows up. As always, Schneider gives us a wonderful picture of life in a Jewish community— Chaim Potok with a wacky sense of humor.