Julius Lester, Author . St. Martin's $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-28820-4

Lester, author of the critically acclaimed novel Do Lord Remember Me and the memoir Lovesong , melds the classic college mystery with deeply theological ruminations on suffering and death. Rebecca Nachman is a former rabbi whose emotional failures in relating to the members of her synagogue cause her to seek refuge in a small college community in northern Vermont, where she works as a therapist. When one student who had come to her for counseling is found strangled in Boston, Rebecca chastises herself for failing to see signs of trouble and realizes she knows the identity of the killer. But the murder mystery is only a subplot in a larger, much more compelling story of theodicy. When Rebecca, the child of Holocaust survivors, comes to possess a Torah scroll that the Nazis stole from a shtetl in 1944, she becomes the "rabbi" of the village's dead, whose spirits visit her each night to say Kaddish. Lester's use of magical realism takes a masterful turn when God himself begins visiting Rebecca, anxious for her to read his autobiography (which has been rejected by the likes of Maimonides, Akiba and Augustine) and know the truth about him—that he is lonely, morally ambivalent and fascinated with evil. Although the murder mystery is predictable, the real mystery of this novel—the mercurial nature of God—is richly absorbing. (Nov. 17)

Reviewed on: 10/25/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Paperback - 247 pages - 978-0-312-34848-9
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-3740-5
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