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Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out Hardcover – 1978

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
Book 7 of 12 in the Rabbi Small Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

If the murder victim had not been a notorious anti-Semite, Rabbi Small might never have become involved. When several members of his congregation became suspects, Rabbi Small was forced to match wits with the killer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 217 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688033628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688033620
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,705,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on January 3, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's no rabbi more famous in fiction that David Small! In this tres kosher series of the rabbi-as-detective, author Harry Kemelman has created one of the most interesting characters of this genre. In "Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out," Small becomes involved in another murder story--this time the victim is a notorious anti-Semite, and a number of his congregation are now suspects (they seem to be for good reason!). It is up to Small to match wits--and skill--with the actual murderer. (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
Certainly any of the "day" novels of Kemelman are a treat (the first was "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late") and on this particular "day" (Thursday) readers will not be disappointed. Kemelman's style is fast-paced and his detective revelations are logical, solid, and do not insult the reader. Clearly, he takes the time and patience to weave his tales--and they are worth the wait!
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Like all of the Kemelman "Rabbi Small" novels, 'Thursday the Rabbi..." is a good read. As is common in the murder mystery genre, it is not great literature. However, unlike most murder mysteries, the 'Rabbi' mysteries engage the reader on several levels by exploring some of the social and political issues of the day, providing some insight into the author's views on Jewish philosophy, and comparing Judaism to Christianity.

Reading the 'Rabbi' series is like eating comfort food. Start your immersion into Rabbi Small's world with the first novel in the series--"Friday the Rabbi Slept Late", and then continue through the 'week' (Sat., Sun., Mon., etc.), because each novel includes recurring characters and refers to events from previous novels. In that way you will trace the rabbi's tenure in the congregation and the history of his sleuthing.

There is a formulaic aspect to the Rabbi Small novels that does not detract from the reader's pleasure: Rabbi Small is engaged in a struggle with some members of his congregation over an aspect of Jewish practice, a single murder intrudes upon his rabbinical duties, the murder typically occurs in the first fifty pages of the book, the most prominent suspects (typically members of his congregation) are invariably 'red herrings', the police always have the wrong theory of the case, the rabbi (like Sherlock Holmes) has to solve the case for the police, and the murderer is always a minor character introduced early in the novel and then ignored until the mystery is resolved in the last 10 pages.

Those caveats aside, the Rabbi Small novels are a great read -- try it, you'll like it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The fact is the rabbi doesn't resort to a pilpul (hair-splitting distinction) in this case. Rather, he employs another Talmudic method of reasoning to identify a killer. He feels compelled to do something; so many Jews in his community have become suspects in a murder case. Since the victim was a rabid anti-Semite, police chief Lanigan naturally looks hard at the man's Jewish contacts. It does seem as if several Jewish people were somehow involved with the victim the evening he was shot between the eyes.

To spice things up, Rabbi Small is in danger of losing his job in this book. It's fun to watch him come to the rescue of the very people who want to oust him.

The plot of this Thursday mystery is especially clever. And the times are especially interesting. Women's Lib is big, and Rabbi Small, a traditionalist, is not exactly politically correct. If that bothers you, you might not be pleased with this particular book. But I find the shabby rabbi so charming, his subtle sense of humor so engaging, and his surprising exposition of Judaic philosophy so intriguing, that I forgive him anything.

I'd suggest reading the Rabbi Small mysteries in order, to follow his rocky rabbinical career, and his complex cases, as they unfold. This is a great series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the 7th novel in Kemelman's weekday mysteries. As usual, it is light reading with considerable Temple politics revolving around Rabbi Small's contract renewal at his Temple in a Boston suburban town. The mystery is, perhaps, a bit more complicated than most of them though a bit dated too--but still quite enjoyable, IMHO. As usual, Small's relationship with Police Chief Lanigan is central to the plot. I was glad to see the Rabbi's wife Miriam make a valuable contribution this time--a cute & clever scene. Once again R. Small expostulates on his version of Conservative Judaism though IMHO his version is hardly normative. While he's technically correct regarding the Bar Mitzvah I don't see why he would oppose something just because it's unnecessary. He seems to have a very rigid viewpoint whereas the Talmud usually has numerous conflicting opinions. Indeed, contemporary Conservative Judaism frequently accepts several alternatives from which a Rabbi may choose. Thus, a congregation will select/keep a Rabbi whose decisions generally reflect the congregation's orientation. Thus, I find R. Small's (Kemelman's?) views rather skewed--& lacking necessary context. Furthermore, his descriptions of free will & sin seem absurd to me. Still, such asides seem less intrusive in this particular novel. Also, it has some nice turns of phrase mostly relevant to the mystery: p. 9: "The fellow who got a reputation as a crack shot by firing first & then drawing a target around the bullet hole, p. 23: Her associates were all Bohemian & long on ideals, especially where the necessity of living up to them was someone else's, & p. 250: I suppose it shows that it takes age & experience & the wisdom of maturity to be fooled."
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