Murder in Yiddish

Isidore Haiblum, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (314p) ISBN 978-0-312-01482-7
Although the title suggests a schmaltzy bit of indulgence, fortunately, science-fiction writer Haiblum has other aspirations in his first mystery. If he doesn't entirely achieve the giddy smartness of Chandler's cleverest metaphors, as he apparently intends, he does reshape the concept of a private eye to fit a meandering Jewish detective working New York. Jim Shaw's assignment is to watch the window of his neighbor Horace Keller, a low-life ex-cop who spends most of his time in front of a TV. One night, he awakens to cries coming from an upstairs apartment where he finds elderly Liuba Silbert, who has been badly beaten. When she dies, he has two cases: to pursue the developing leads on Keller, and to discover the meaning of the Yiddish letter the dying Silbert insisted he take. Haiblum is not nearly as witty as he thinks, and, at times, he follows too closely the old hard-boiled formula. But he knows his Manhattan environs well, and as his hero's two investigations merge, Haiblum unfolds clues suspensefully and tells his story well. (March)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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