When Mendel Krinkle, father of Berel and Sarah, dies, he leaves the two children on their own. Sarah is able to do her father’s work, provided no one knows that a girl, and a Jewish girl at that, is doing copy work for a Gentile firm in London of 1814. One day, Berel, the youngest, encounters General Well’ngone, second in command to Earl of Travel Lane, head of a band of Jewish thieves. After walking Berel home, the General sees Sarah and his heart is lost.
General Well’NGone in Love is another of Libi Astaire’s Jewish Regency Mystery series, and despite its brevity, is an excellent read. Along with Sarah, Berel, General and the other denizens of London’s Jewish community, there is as usual Ezra Melamed, a wealthy widower who is one of the Jewish Community’s leaders, and who spends a good bit of his time supporting the members of his community. All of his abilities are tested when Berel goes missing and it’s feared he has been kidnapped.
The author writes with wry wit and a deft hand, skillfully portraying London’s Jewish society of the period and entertaining readers at the same time. Don’t miss this book! Five stars all around.
The Doppelganger’s Dance by Libi Astaire, a free copy of which I received for review, is the second Ezra Melamed mystery I’ve read. Astaire writes in a style that was common in English cozy mysteries in the late nineteenth, a style that is very appropriate for her characters and setting – London’s Jewish community in the early 1800s.
Ezra Melamed, a wealthy Jew in London, is more than just the head of the Jewish community – he is also something of a philanthropist and amateur private detective. The main – and most interesting – character, though, in this story is the narrator Rebecca Lyon, daughter of the community clockmaker, who is at the center of every significant event.
When Rebecca’s father is asked by Melamed to go to Leeds to escort the widow Salomon back to London, Rebecca goes along, and they find themselves, as is the norm in this series, in the middle of strange and sometimes threatening events.
Astaire’s descriptions paint a picture of society as it must have been during the early 1800s, and her dialogue just sounds credible. If you’re a fan of cozies, I can strongly recommend The Doppelganger’s Dance. If you’ve not read one before, this is probably a good place to start.
Ezra Melamed is a Jewish detective in London of the 1800s. In Libi Astaire’s Tempest in the Tea Room, Melamed must discover why otherwise healthy orphans are becoming deathly ill. In this tale, set against the backdrop of London’s Jewish community, complete with jealousy, revenge, unrequited love, and snobbish pretensions, we meet a character who is understated, and at the same time, larger than life.
Astaire does a deft job of describing the social milieu in which a cast of interesting characters act out their roles in ways that sometimes surprise us. She brings the historian’s in depth understanding of the period skillfully together with the hand of a master storyteller to weave a tale that is as intricate as the stitches sewn by the Jewish matriarchs who hold court in their sitting rooms.
I received a free copy of Tempest for review, and while I found the prologue a bit long, once Astaire got revved up, it was worth the wait. Agatha Christie fans will identify with Astaire’s tone and style, but make no mistake – she’s no Christie clone – she’s in a class all her own.