A Bundle of Reviews #10 Or The Case of the Creeping Rabbi

The Creeping Jenny Mystery by Brian Flynn (1930)

The seemingly untouchable jewel-thief “Creeping Jenny” has been burglarizing the country houses of England. But Jenny’s last job goes a bit to far, and it’s not just jewels that are taken.

Not one of my favorite of Flynn’s books. Bathurst isn’t “seen” until almost the end of the tale. Inspector Baddeley is left on his own to investigate. Bathurst’s Watson, Peter Daventry is left to write provide Bathurst with updates in the form of inane letters, with Bathurst returning cryptic replies. The dialogue is irritating throughout. Bathurst is sometimes verbose, but here it not he, but all the “Bright Young Things” prattling endlessly in their incomprehensible slang.

The mystery did not come together for me at all. There are two crimes, theft and murder, but it feels as if only the theft is given any real weight in the story. Also, the clues for the murder are not at all convincing, and it feels very much as if Bathurst pulls it out of his hat.

This is the fifth of the Anthony Bathurst series that I’ve read, and while I may not have gotten much out of this one, I have enjoyed the others. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Flynn.

My Judgment –  3.25/5

Previous Rulings – The Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza –  2013 Scattergories – #17 Country House Criminals

Calendar of Crime – April #8. Month-related item on cover (fancy hat)

Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman (1966)

Rabbi Small and his congregation of Barnard’s Crossing are preparing for the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. But Small will soon have other things on his mind. Isaac Hirsh, math researcher at a local lab and alcoholic, goes on a bender. He’s later found dead in his car in his closed garage. Now there’s a dispute is over whether he can be buried in the small Jewish cemetery. Questions of the man’s death are being raised over whether his death a suicide or an accident? To put the matter to rest, Small looks more deeply into the man’s death, and notices the small clues which lead, not to suicide or accident, but to murder.

Rabbi David Small makes and intelligent and appealing character, and the story revolving around the murder of Hirsh was intriguing, but I felt it got lost in a tangle of issues introduced into the plot. Matters including religious differences, civil rights, and temple politics were all fodder for long discussions, or lectures by Rabbi Small on Talmudic law, and therefore in no way concerned the mystery, and it all became quite tiresome.

My Judgment – 2.75/5

Calendar of Crime – September #5 – Other September Holiday: Yom Kippur

8 thoughts on “A Bundle of Reviews #10 Or The Case of the Creeping Rabbi

  1. Harry Kemelman wrote a great short story, ‘The Nine Mile Walk’ which is highly recommended. In fact, I seem to remember that I have the book of his in which it was collected somewhere, so I should try to dig it out before retirement beckons. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. A quick search and I see it’s short stories with an entirely different character…and it’s readily available. I’ll definitely give it a try.

      Ah yes…I see that time when you head towards doddering away in your rocking chair is just around the corner 🤨

  2. Oh dear! You’ve certainly had some dud reads this June. I’ve not tried any of Kemelman’s work, but your review seems to suggest that I have not been missing out on much!

    1. I’ve been trying to branch out in my reading…and it’s not worked out very well. Although I was surprised with the Flynn.

      JJ mentioned a collection of short stories by Kemelman, and after looking around the internet at other reviews, I’m intrigued enough to give it a try. We’ll see how it goes🤨

      1. Branching out is not a bad idea, though sometimes risky. I tried a lot of new authors when I first started my blog and I found quite a number of writers I really enjoyed and have gone back to since. For me trying new authors helps you figure out what works for you and then when it comes to deciding on whether to try another new writer, you have a more informed perspective to base your decision on.
        And if nothing else you can console yourself that you are taking a bullet or two for the rest of us!

  3. Jonathan O

    I feel I should put in a word in favour of the David Small stories, which I’ve always enjoyed. I think, though, you have to accept that as well as the detective element the books will contain some content which is basically about what life is like for a rabbi in the modern world. (A similar point applies to Tony Hillerman’s books if you replace “rabbi” by “Native American”.)

  4. I love to know about my protagonists and details of their lives are important. It was the vast variety of subject and the amount of content in this particular book that I found so distracting.

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