THE BIG NAP

Ayelet Waldman, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $21.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-425-17949-9

Juliet Applebaum, L.A. public defender turned stay-at-home mom, returns for a second amusing but poignant adventure mixing child-rearing and sleuthing (after 2000's somewhat weaker Nursery Crimes, which was marred by a clichéd ending). Four-month-old Isaac isn't sleeping much, and neither is his mother, while dad is busy getting the pilot for a new TV series ready. A chance encounter with a Hasidic storekeeper, Nettie Tannenbaum, brings Juliet temporary relief, when Nettie recommends her niece, Fraydle Finkelstein, as a babysitter. Fraydle works wonders with Isaac and three-year-old Ruby, but next day goes missing. Could Fraydle's disappearance have something to do with her family belonging to a strict religious group, the Satmar Hasidim, and her parents having arranged a marriage for her? Juliet saw Fraydle chatting with a young Israeli named Yossi, but the girl vehemently denied that he was her boyfriend. When the Finkelstein family refuses to involve the police, Juliet travels to Brooklyn, where she wangles a meeting with the family of Fraydle's intended husband. The surprising truth of what happened to Fraydle, however, lies back in Los Angeles. Drawing sharp contrasts between the world of conservative Judaism and Juliet's more liberal Hollywood life, Waldman has given her heroine a compelling story befitting her intelligent, witty voice. (June 12)

FYI:Ayelet is the wife of Michael Chabon.

Reviewed on: 05/21/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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