Scribner, Sep 2001, 24.00, 298 pp.
Since the death of Rabbi Stu Rothman, Essie Sue Margolis runs the Temple Rita synagogue in Eternal, Texas. Using a statistically invalid and unreliable sampling of the congregation members, Essie Sue informs the board that the new Rabbi Kevin Kerstein has a very low approval rating. To avoid the selection process of a new rabbi, the board including Ruby, the wife of the deceased previous Rabbi, agree to a Caribbean Sea cruise.
Ruby wins the raffle for a free trip, but wonders if she will be sailing with endless tsuris from the aggravation she expects from her companions. The Bargain Tours cruise is filled with cut-rate reductions that makes this a trip worth forgetting though coincidentally the Captain happens to be Essie Sue's cousin. University Professor Gonzales was to provide insight into the historical Jewish population in the area, but he dies while boarding the ship. Ruby finds herself embroiled in a mystery based on the professor's notes while two suitors, the captain and a passenger she likes (who might just be a killer) pursue her.
The third Rabbi's wife mystery, DON'T CRY FOR ME, HOT PASTRAMI, is an amusing who-done-it due to the internal sufferings and asides of Ruby. The story line is fun though a reader might wonder why Ruby puts up with Essie Sue, a professional nudnick. Essie Sue is as aggressive a character one will find in a cozy while the Rabbi needs to borrow some of her chutzpah so he will not continue to look like a putz. Fans of an ethnic who-done-it will enjoy this tale that requires noshing a bagel while reading it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner