Recently divorced, spiritually adrift, and recovering from alcoholism, Dov Taylor, an ex-cop from the NYPD, is called upon to recover one of the world's greatest treasures: the Seer's Stone, a magnificent 72-carat diamond. The gem was to be used as dowry in a historic wedding meant to unite two powerful, bitterly antagonistic Hasidic sects, but has been removed from the sanctum of New York City's diamond center and placed in the hands of the Magician, a Nazi collaborator and notorious war criminal. In a difficult quest of recovery, Taylor forges a link through time and solicits the help of his exalted ancestor, Hirsh Leib of Orlik---a zaddik and prince of Israel from 19th-century Poland, a country ravaged by war and fanaticism. To succeed, Taylor must commit his very life to a law older and more awesome than any on the books.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1.35 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2002
Publisher Invisible Cities Press Llc
ISBN 1931229201 ISBN13 9781931229203
Availability 0 units.
More About David Rosenbaum
David Rosenbaum is a veteran journalist and was the editor in chief of the "Boston Herald" for five years. He is the author of "Sasha's Trick," He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
David Rosenbaum currently resides in Scottsdale, in the state of Arizona.
From New York reality to stetl mysticism -- and back again Feb 20, 2005
This novel starts out as a typical cop story, with the gruesome ritual murder of a Hasidic diamond dealer and his secretary in New York City. The official detective on the scene is a clueless and rather antisemitic gentile who is not likely to ever solve the murders -- and the Hasidim know this. So they hire David Taylor, a Jewish ex-cop who has been studying Hasidism with a Lubovitcher rabbi in an attempt to find his roots. He's not a pious Jew by any means, but he does know enough about the Hasidic culture to open doors that would be closed to the gentile cop.
The motive for the murders is a flawless 72-carat diamond -- a magnificent stone that nobody in the diamond business has even seen, but which definitely exists. It belongs to the Satmarer Rebbe, a Hasidic leader who was planning to include it in his daughter's dowry. She is betrothed to the adopted son of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. (A fictional character -- there is no such son. The surname of the Rebbe, "Seligman," is also fictional. The real Lubovitcher's name was Schneerson.) This is a highly controversial marriage between two powerful warring sects, and there are plenty of people -- mafia, Israeli agents, ex-Nazis, ex-KGBs, greedy dealers, a murderous psychopath -- who want to stop this alliance and/or get their hands on that valuable diamond.
That's the hard-boiled cop part. As the story develops, an element of magical realism enters the picture. The murdered man was a Satmarer, and Taylor must meet with the Satmarer Rebbe and receive his blessing if he is to get any information out of the community. What follows is a very strange interview. The Rebbe refuses to talk directly to Taylor because he is a sinner, and speaks, instead, to David's saintly ancestor, Reb Hirsh Leib. Is this the bigotry of a mad religious fanatic -- or is the Rebbe REALLY speaking to the soul of Taylor's great-great-great grandfather? From this point on, mysticism becomes entwined with realism. The point is repeatedly made that "There is no before or after in Torah." In the mind of God, past and present are intertwined.
In Part Two of the novel, Taylor is transported in a vision to Hirsh Leib's world in 18th-century Eastern Europe, where we learn the origins of the diamond, it's connection to Taylor's ancestor, Hirsh Leib -- and a lot of other things I won't tell you about now. This knowledge, in turn helps Taylor solve the murders in Part Three -- and much more.
The book is well-written and tightly plotted, with plenty of twists and turns that will keep you reading far into the night. However, there were too many graphic scenes (definitely X-rated) and some bloopers about Hasidic culture, which is why I am docking it a star. Most of the bloopers were relatively minor, but still... (Writers of this kind of novel really should hire a Hasidic copy editor. The publishers' editors seem to be generally clueless and just don't catch the errors.)
One of the more baffling bloopers was the statement that Hasidim do not consult doctors. Not true. Even weirder is that the family involved (who were childless but would not see a fertility specialist) are supposed to be Lubovitchers, the most "modern" of all the Hasidim. In real life, the Lubovitcher Rebbe was very interested in medical advances and often referred his followers to specialists, ESPECIALLY for fertility issues. My guess is, regarding this blooper, that the author read old accounts of how Rebbe Nachman of Breslov discouraged his Hasidim from seeing doctors. True. But Rebbe Nachman was writing in the 18th century -- at a time when doctors did not even wash their hands before surgery. In those days, hospitals were places where people went to die. Nowadays, Breslover Hasidim (and others) do consult doctors, although they also stress that all healing ultimately comes from God.
A few other bloopers were: (1) Reb Teitel's four kitchens for "Meat, dairy, Shabbos, and Passover." There would be no reason to have a separate kitchen for Shabbos (the Sabbath.) If he did have four kitchens, they would be "meat" and "dairy" for Passover, and "meat" and "dairy" for the rest of the year. (2) the big-screen TV that the Lubovitchers set up outside their headquarters on Simchas Torah. This would be a no-no on that holiday, because electronic equipment such as TVs and cameras cannot be operated on the holy days. The author must have confused Simchat Torah with Saturday night after the Sabbath, when the Lubovitcher Rebbe did broadcast his sermons on satellite TV. (3) Wishing each other "gut yontif" before the Sabbath. The correct phrase is "gut Shabbos." (4) Using "Reb" as a stand-alone noun. "Reb" is a title that ALWAYS goes with a name -- one does not say "The Reb said," anymore than one says "the Mr. said." And "Reb" is NOT synonymous with Rebbe. A Rebbe is the leader of a Hasidic sect. "Reb" is a Yiddish honorific that can be applied to any male Jew as a sign of respect -- rather like saying "sir" to a superior.
In spite of these bloopers, the author did do his homework and even included a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms for the uninitiated. The characters in the flashback section are all based on historical figures, with the exception of Hirsch Leib, who is, in the author's words, "a composite figure based on several Hasidic masters."
Brilliant and original! Jun 15, 1999
The book is a stunning mix of hard boiled crime fiction and magical realism. In addition, it provides a thorough education into the worlds of Chassidism and the diamond trade. No matter what your persuasion, you'll find it fascinating.
An Amazing Ride!! Apr 4, 1997
This book is an unusual combination of mystery and Hasidic folk-tales. The protagonist, Dov Taylor is a Jewish recovering alchoholic and ex-policeman whose life has fallen apart and who is experimenting with searching for his Jewish roots. The mystery centers around an enormous diamond and several murders that are committed in the New York diamond district because of it. Old Nazis, the mob, and the Israeli secret service all seem to be involved. Mid-way through the novel, the detective has a dream or regression into a former life in 18th century Poland as the history of the diamond is revealed (Hasidic masters and Napoleon are involved!!!)
To risk cliche, this book is a real page-turner and difficult to put down.
My only complaint is that the cause for the detective's alcoholism (he accidentally shot and killed a child) and his involvement with AA seem to have been directly lifted from Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder novels. Otherwise this is a fascinating read.