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Diamonds for the Dead Paperback – April 8, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Orloff's thought-provoking debut, Josh Handleman, who's separated from his wife in San Francisco, returns home to Reston, Va., to take care of his late father's estate. Josh is shocked to learn that not only was his father, Abe, a secret multimillionaire who generously helped many charities, in particular the Reston Hebrew Home, but the fatal fall Abe took might not have been accidental. He also discovers that Abe collected diamonds, which have vanished, as well as a boarder still in the house—Kassian, a scruffy, elderly Russian overly fond of vodka. Josh is consumed with curiosity after his father's best friend, Lev Yurishenko, accuses Kassian of killing Abe. Josh's hunt for the missing diamonds and a possible killer leads to more disturbing revelations as well as some emotional healing courtesy of the sister of an old high school classmate. Likable characters more than compensate for some slow pacing. (Apr.)
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About the Author
Alan Orloff is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Md. He is the author of Diamonds for the Dead, an Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel, and Killer Routine. Orloff earned a B.S. from the University of Maryland and an M.B.A. from MIT/Sloan. He resides in northern Virginia. For more information, visit him online at: AlanOrloff.com.
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Just who was Abe Handleman? It becomes quickly obvious, not whom his son, Josh thought. Abe turns out to be a person of great generosity. He funded Josh's friends business projects, he housed an old Russian Jewish gentleman with nowhere else to go believing without question that they are related. He has given millions to the local Hebrew Home and wanted to fully vest a wing just for Russian Jews. There is talk of Abe's collection...diamonds.
Josh gets the house, and Kassian, the resident family member he never heard of. Even Aunt Shel speaks of an Abe that Josh, in his young manhood had never gotten to known. And, where exactly are those diamonds? The police say Abe's death was an accident, but Abe's best friends says "No, he was murdered."
We are led on a fascinating journey with Josh as he meets a Father, he truly never knew.Then we venture on a treasure hunt that may find diamonds and even a killer at the end.
This was a very good story and I will look forward to reading Mr. Orloff's other novels.
One example: Late at night two attractive women barge into Josh Handleman's house unannounced, eye each other, mistake the situation and flounce out. His reaction: "When you're hot, you're hot. And when you're not, you're Josh Handleman, stud to dud in sixty seconds."
Josh is also a man almost consumed with grief by the death of his father. His trip from San Francisco to the Northern Virginia suburb of Reston is a trip back in time and a discovery that he never really knew Abe Handleman. Years ago Josh had simply tuned out the man who got on his case because he had no ambition. Back in his home town he learns that his father was a gentle, generous, beloved man who extended a helping hand to anyone who needed it.
The old house where he grew up has resisted change for 35 years. To Josh, "It was almost as if I'd never left--the surroundings felt so familiar," but the shocks begin when he finds a small, rumpled man living in the basement.
Quoting: "The foul odor in Kassian's room had quashed my appetite, just as the events of the last two months had beaten down my spirit. I'd caught my wife screwing my business partner. My father had tripped down the stairs to his death. And now I'd found a drunk Russian living in the basement."
The biggest shock comes when his best friend, now his father's lawyer, reveals that "Honest Abe" Handleman had amassed a fortune and left seven million dollars to the Reston Hebrew Home.As Josh reconnects with old friends he learns that Abe also gave money to half the people in town, simply to give them a hand up when they needed it.
But Abe didn't forget Josh. His will left Josh the house and its contents, plus his safe deposit box and contents. Another shock--the safe deposit box is empty and a bag full of diamonds is missing. Josh is caught up in a mystery designed like the traditional Russian nesting dolls. Answer one question and another one pops up. Answer it, and another one takes it place.
The conclusion is surprising. I hope there is a sequel.