19 December 2017

Go for the Gold

by Barb Goffman

When I was in college, a roommate was excited to come home one spring day to find me eating matzo ball soup. She asked if she could have some. She loved trying new ethnic foods. Having grown up Jewish, matzo ball soup didn't seem so ethnic to me, but I was happy to oblige.

As we head into the final days of Hanukkah this week, I thought of my old roommate, and I realized that perhaps this is a good time to bring a little ethnicity to readers, in this case, in the form of a favorite legal mystery series of mine starring a Jewish protagonist named Rachel Gold.

Rachel is an attorney at a law firm in Chicago when the series begins. A few books in, Rachel and her best friend, Benny, move to St. Louis, and the series continues there. Rachel is hard-working, smart, and a delight to read about. Author Michael A. Kahn also gives readers a nice look into the ways Judaism can play a role in everyday life, both through Rachel's personal life and her law firm work.

I know there are a lot of mysteries with Jewish protagonists, but this ten-book series is my favorite among them. The first book in the collection is called Grave Designs. I think Kahn started out with a different publisher (maybe more than one along the way), but now, all his books appear to be available through his current publisher, Poisoned Pen Press. You can also find a short story or two of his out there about Rachel Gold. They all come with my recommendation.

Please feel free to share your favorite "ethnic" mystery protagonist in the comments. And happy holidays and happy new year to you all.

16 comments:

Jeff Baker said...

Happy Holidays, and a bright New Year to you and yours, Barb!

Paul D. Marks said...

It might not be very original, but I'd have to say my favorite ethnic mystery protagonist (and that's a mouthful to say ;-) ) is Easy Rawlins. I started reading the Easy books as soon as the first one, Devil in a Blue Dress, came out and I think I was hooked from the get go. Still am.

janice law said...

Good wishes for the holidays and for 2018.

Melodie Campbell said...

Will look for that series! My favourite ethnic is actually a series in translation: Montalbano, by Andrea Camilleri. True Sicilian way of life, with lots of humour - I love it. You can also see the excellent TV series on MHZ (now available in Canada - yay!)

Eve Fisher said...

Easy Rawlins, definitely; Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small series; and I love Maigret, which captures Paris and its changes from 1931-1972.

O'Neil De Noux said...

Melodie,
Just read Andrea Camilleri's ANGELICA'S SMILE. Wonderful. Loved it. Will look for more in the series.

Don't know if my John Raven Beau series qualities as ethnic as he is half-Cajun, half-Sioux.

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. And seasons greetings, once more, to Jeff and Janice. And thanks for the suggestions, Paul, Mel, Eve, and O'Neil. And O'Neil, I think your series qualifies. Your character comes from distinctive cultures, which people may be interested in learning about.

Michael Kahn said...

Thank you for your kind words, Barb. Your post is the perfect gift for Rachel and me on this last night of Hanukkah!

Robert Lopresti said...

Rawlins is great but I'll vote for Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee.

Leigh Lundin said...

That's a series I have to check out, Barb.

As for favorites, I wrote a short story in which the bad guy and his pursuer stumble into a temple.

Barb Goffman said...

You're welcome, and thanks for stopping by, Michael. I hope there will be more Rachel books in the future.

Barb Goffman said...

Hillerman was another author who allowed readers an inside look at a culture many know far too little of.

Barb Goffman said...

And what happened?

Peter Rozovsky said...

I like several of the protagonists that previous comments have mentioned. Among Jewish protagonists, my favorite is Stuart M. Kaminsky's Abe Lieberman. I like him because he fully embraces a complicated Jewish family and cultural life, while at the same time defying one longtime cultural stereotype about Jews: He can be violent, sometimes dangerously so.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Of course, the all-timer has to be Isaac Babel's Benya Krik, if you want to count Babel's stories about him as crime fiction. And why not?

Barb Goffman said...

So many books, so little time.