Book Plunge For Fun: The Dot Meyerhoff Mysteries

What do I think of Ellen Kirschman’s series? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Generally, if I’m reading for fun, it’s normally going to be a mystery. It started with the Hardy Boys in elementary and middle school and then after finishing all my library had I went on to Nancy Drew. After that, I started reading Mary Higgins Clark since my mother was fascinated with her. Now with a kindle, I tend to get any free series I can.

This time, I came across this series and read the first four books. Dot Meyerhoff is not a detective, at least formally. She is a psychologist that works with the police department and in the course of doing her job, she will often come across situations, some of which she would say she causes, and gets caught up in a mystery trying to figure out what is going on.

One unique aspect of this is that the stories are told from the first-person perspective. The last time I remember a first-person account in a mystery was when I read the Monk mystery novels, but those were told from the perspective of his assistant Natalie so you never really got inside of Monk’s head. Here, you are inside the head of the investigator and hearing all of her own problems and concerns.

In the midst of all that she does, she also is often busy trying to juggle a love life and wrestling with the fact that her ex-husband who she used to work with left her for another woman. One might be surprised to see some wrong thinking going on in the head of a psychologist, but it is quite real. Most therapists from what I understand actually see therapists of their own. After all, everyone has blind spots.

Often, Dot gets herself in situations where she is in over her head. Thankfully, there is a police department right there to help her out, but many times the police department also sees thoroughly frustrated with her No matter how many times she comes out as even better investigators than the people assigned to investigate, she still sees herself as a therapist and the police still keep wanting her to stay out of their business.

Religiously, she is a Jewish atheist. There is not too much talk of religion in the books aside from more of a sociological position, such as her living as a Jew and the way her parents raised her. Still, Dot usually does go out of her way to help anyone that she comes across. That can also be another problem of hers as usually she bites off more than she can chew.

Many times, these mysteries aren’t your typical whodunnit more than a what happened mystery. There are cases of wondering who the culprit is, but it’s not like wrestling with a list of suspects often. It is a difficult concept to explain, but the mysteries are often very engrossing and while I normally read a chapter a day, there were times I got close to the end and just went ahead and finished reading all of them.

So if you do enjoy mysteries, this is a good one to try. If you have a kindle, you can get a good deal on this and other mysteries. Perhaps when I see them on sale I might get books 5-6.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge For Fun: Rabbi David Small

What do I think of Harry Kemelman’s books published by Fawcett Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am trying to read some more fiction and if there is any kind I especially enjoy, it’s detective fiction. It’s also fun when the main character is not really a detective in the professional sense, such as the Father Brown mysteries, which I have read entirely. Being on Kindle and getting newsletters from them of books on sale, I regularly saw these books on sale and then one day, I saw a combination of four for something like $2.99. That was enough for me.

The rabbi is indeed a rabbi and not a Messianic rabbi, but while I disagree with his religious beliefs, I do like the way he goes about solving mysteries. David Small is the main rabbi in the series and he uses reasoning based on Talmudic principles and the Torah to solve his cases. He is someone who is aloof from the world around him and is not easily swayed. I couldn’t help but like the way his wife described him. “David will change the world before the world will change my David.”

Small does form a good relationship with the chief of police in the town of Barnard’s Crossing where the books mainly take place. The interesting aspect of Small is his nature in that many times he solves mysteries without really setting out to solve them. He’s rather nonchalant in the way he goes about it. The only big exception I have seen thus far is the first book where his wife has to insist he solve the case since he himself is a suspect in the case.

In the other books, it seems to practically come out as just a regular part of conversation. There is no jumping up and shouting “Eureka!” It’s more of “Just follow this piece of evidence here and then look at this and see how it has to be this way” and before too long, the criminal is identified. Small makes no big deal about what he has done.

Not only all of this, but he regularly has to put up with the trials of running his congregation, who too often are not on his side. This is one area where it makes his not solving crimes a big deal interesting. No one in these meetings at least thus far says “The rabbi has his issues, but he is practically a celebrity with the way he has solved so many cases.”

I have read the first four books in the series thus far and then I plan to read the rest, but I am waiting to get the books in chronological order. Small is an amusing character and one who it is fascinating to see the way his mind works. The works do have a lot of Jewish references in them and that could be difficult for some readers to follow who are not in those circles or familiar with that language, Fortunately, there is not really anything essential to the cases I have seen thus far.

If you see this deal on Amazon or see it at the library, pick it up and give it a try. I liked the first four so much that like I said, I am looking forward to reading the rest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Strong Poison

What do I think of Dorothy Sayers’s book published by Open Road Media Mystery and Thriller? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s really hard to review this book because it’s a mystery and I can’t tell you much about it without spoilers. I will try to do the best I can. The story starts with a judge talking to a jury about the case with the defendant on trial. She is accused of murdering her past lover with arsenic and all of the evidence seems to point to her hands-down as the criminal.

Lord Peter Wimsey disagrees.

Lord Peter Wimsey is the detective in many of Sayers’s novels. I happen to enjoy reading a good mystery and the reason I did this one was because of my interest in Dorothy Sayers and that’s what I want to focus on. She was a member of the inklings and a friend of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

To speak some about this work, one amazing aspect of it is while Christian characters do show up, sometimes the good guys engage in behavior that is not really Christian at all. I have no indication from this book if Peter Wimsey is a Christian or not, although I do know he can sing one hymn at least.

It is also sometimes difficult to understand some English mannerisms on this side of the pond. What does it mean for Peter to be a Lord, for example? Some of the terms seemed highly British and some of the ways that the people behaved, but one can still understand the plot.

The book goes so far in avoiding being explicitly Christian that in the end, I had to check to make sure I had the right lady. Maybe I got her confused with another Dorothy who was in the inklings. Nope. Got the right one.

We could say Lewis’s strength was that his material was much more outright Christian, yet Sayers’s strength is that hers wasn’t. Perhaps the difference was Lewis was writing for children with the Chronicles of Narnia. The Space Trilogy is a different matter, but that could also be by then that Lewis was so well-known as a Christian that it would be assumed.

Sayers then reminds me of what Lewis said about the best material needing to come from Christians even if it wasn’t Christian. What if the best book on medicine today was by a doctor who was Christian? What if the best book on physics was from a scientist who was Christian?

So my hope with this would be people would read Sayers and come to like her mysteries and then go and read her more theological works. I also wonder if she got some inspiration from Chesterton who did the Father Brown Mysteries. Of course, in that case, the character is explicitly Christian. I still have a funny story of when I had a roommate and he decided to borrow the Complete Collection one night that I had. He woke up late the next day and was upset with me because he didn’t get to bed until past 1 because he was so excited reading those mysteries.

So now, it looks like I have another detective to read. I have read Regan Reilly, Father Brown, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, some Sherlock Holmes, and now I can add Lord Peter Wimsey to the list. He certainly is a fun detective to read. If you like mysteries like I do, give this one a shot.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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