Book Review

A Tale of Two Rabbis

A Rabbi Ben Mystery, #3

Marvin J. Wolf

Atenna Books, September 7, 2017

Epub ARC, 416 Pages

Also available in Kindle, paperback

Genre(s) Mystery

Source Author

Other books in this series

For Whom the Shofar Blows #1, A Scribe Dies in Brooklyn #2


Rabbi Ben, the hero of For Whom the Shofar Blows and A Scribe Dies in Brooklyn, is back. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—newly-engaged, Ben is in Pittsburgh for a medical procedure when he passes out in the street. He comes to in the home of Abby Silverblatt—the older sister of his ninth-grade girlfriend. Ben had saved her son from being attacked by school bullies. Invited to services at the Sanoker Shul, Abby’s tiny synagogue, Ben is asked to give a guest sermon—their Rabbi Geltkern has disappeared. Abby’s wife Yolanda, a Pittsburgh cop, along with Abby and Stan Bernstein (who helps run the shul) ask Ben to look into Geltkern’s disappearance. Oh, and could he fill in for their rabbi while he’s at it? Ben just wants to take it easy, but how can he say no?

Sifting through the clues of Geltkern’s disappearance, Ben discovers unusual goings-on at the synagogue. Papers are missing, a mysterious motion-detection camera alerts someone on the outside when the building is occupied, and an intruder visits the premises. When Bernstein is found dead in his office, his files stripped bare, Ben knows he’s touched a nerve. The more Ben uncovers, the less it makes sense—until he begins to suspect that perhaps Geltkern isn’t really a rabbi. Using Talmudic logic, Ben pieces together the puzzle, and comes up with millions of reasons why someone would want him out of the picture. With the help of a bowling alley’s oversexed accountant looking to score a strike with our red-haired hero, Ben unravels an elaborate plot that goes back to Sanok, Poland on the eve of World War II, and beyond. It is a far, far better thing that he does than he has ever done.


Welcome to my page. For more information, visit

I began my media career in the media as a U.S. Army combat photographer in Vietnam. Assigned to a public information section, it took a week escorting Nobel laureate John Steinbeck before I realized that writing was an important adjunct to my photo work. In Vietnam, I had the great good fortune to meet and become friends with some of the world’s greatest reporters and photographers, including Nobel laureate author John Steinbeck, Jonathan Fenby, Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, and many others. These men were generous with their time and wisdom and helped put me on the path to becoming a writer.

As I made the transition from magazine writing to longer forms, I was encouraged to specialize but found that I was interested in so many things that I found it impossible to choose only one. Instead, I became a frequent collaborator, helping such notables as Native American leader Russell Means and former South Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky with their autobiographies. I also developed an appreciation for suspense and intrigue that inevitably led me to write about crime. About 2001 I took a segue into film and had a short but interesting career writing for television. That helped me to create a character that I’ve put into the Rabbi Ben Mysteries. The first of these books, “For Whom The Shofar Blows,” debuted on in November 2011. Thanks for visiting this page, and remember those habitual readers are smarter and have more well-rounded personalities.

My Disclaimer:

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.

~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰

When I got an e-mail from Marvin Wolf asking about a quote for his second book’s cover, I was excited, but I don’t write those type of reviews that have the wonderful little pull-outs that make great cover blurbs. However, he had some even better news for me. He had a copy of his new book I could read if I didn’t mind an epub format. I didn’t care if it was written on toilet paper, as long as I got to read it! And he could send me a peek at the cover art in a little while when it was finalized. Even better!

The cover art is wonderful! It packs the drama and color of the book itself, and I like that. A book and its cover should match. That poor woman’s house exploding in the background certainly makes a great statement, as do the two “gentlemen” in the foreground. This time, Rabbi Ben has really gotten himself into a mess with folks who aren’t playing around.

But let’s back up here a moment. Remember that Ben AKA Moshe Benyamin Maimon AKA Mark T. Glass is in a medical trial for a life-threatening condition he contracted back when his first wife was killed. He was only cut up, so he was a first responder during the incident. There are lots of nasty things that you can get when you have open wounds and are dealing with other people’s open wounds. It’s what keeps synagogues from hiring him as a rabbi. He feels he must be open and honest about it, and he is understanding but sad when they decide against taking the chance with their children.

Rabbi Ben not only solves the mystery for the shul, but he finds out things about himself, mysteries about his own past. He investigates himself the same way he does any other mystery. He unearths secrets of his past that answer questions for his future. And speaking of his future. We don’t see too much of Miryam in this one. She is in Buenos Aires for most of the time and doesn’t show up until the end.

This third book is chock full of the rich and sad history and culture of the Jews. Rabbi Ben shares a lot of it with us while working on his own background, while helping the small shul, and while visiting with new friends. He has such an analytical mind. And the things he knows about a person simply from the words they use. Makes me think of Professor Henry Higgins when he’s telling people where they’re from just by their accents. He’s also a man who truly lives by his beliefs. When he can’t live by them, he knows he will answer for his transgressions in heaven. It’s not just a Sunday morning philosophy to him, it’s the guiding principle of his life, his faith. As usual, Ben is busy making friends and enemies in this book. Make Ben’s acquaintance and grab this one, hot off the press. It was just released on the 7th! I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a personality and charm. I’m sure you’ll go back and read the first two when you’re done with this one.

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