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Friday the Rabbi Slept Late

(The Rabbi Small Mysteries #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,599 ratings  ·  457 reviews
Rabbi David Small, the new leader of Barnard's Crossing's Jewish community, can't even enjoy his Sabbath without things getting stirred up in a most unorthodox manner: It seems a young nanny has been found strangled, less than a hundred yards from the Temple's parking lot -- and all the evidence points to the Rabbi. Add to that the not-so-quiet rumblings of his disgruntled ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by iBooks (first published 1964)
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Patty Nolan I'm not sure who assigns official Lexile levels but this is not YA stuff. It is articulate and engaging... I would have enjoyed it in high school, but…moreI'm not sure who assigns official Lexile levels but this is not YA stuff. It is articulate and engaging... I would have enjoyed it in high school, but it does involve sex and murder, as well as beautiful and enlightening Talmudic insights. And it's delightfully mid-century.(less)

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Start your review of Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (The Rabbi Small Mysteries #1)
Out of an entirely random find at the library, I've found a great little mystery series.
The charm of this book was not so much in the mystery itself, which was middling, but in the Jewish culture portrayed and explained and in the character of Rabbi Small, who is a naive but clever intellectual with out of the box solutions to Temple matters and murder mysteries.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was skimming through my TBR shelf and having a hard time deciding what to read next. Although I had read this a long time ago I had picked it up when I saw it on sale at Amazon. It is a short book (208 pages) and I decided now was a good time to reread this gem.

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late was published in 1964 and won a 1965 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. At the time it was a huge bestseller and was the beginning of a new series ... the Rabbi Small mysteries. One of the charms of the book w
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2019 reread:
I very much enjoyed rereading this first Rabbi Small mystery despite the fact that I suddenly remembered who the murderer was halfway through. Now (finally) on to the next book in the series.

2015 review of library hardcover edition (1964 edition):
4½ stars.

I had been vaguely aware of this series before but hadn't paid it much attention until I was introduced to the Guardian newspaper's list of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read and found this first book of the series in the Crime secti
Shira Glassman
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish
Aww, cool, it's a midcentury whodunit like all those Christies I love, only, CENTERING JEWS! (which I was very in the mood for since with all of Christie's good qualities, she does have some ickiness about us in one or two books.) I loved how it was a puzzle mystery, right up my alley, and FULL of suspects. The "detective" is a young rabbi with a passion for Talmudic justice, which is itself sort of a puzzle mystery, isn't it?

You see who he is right from the beginning, since it opens with him ha
I actually really enjoyed this cozy mystery! Never even knew it was a book, let alone a series, until this month. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late kind of gave me Agatha Christie vibes. Mostly because the whole mystery was from everyone's POV. Of course, the main suspect is the Rabbi himself but he did a wonderful job helping the police and everyone else come to the right conclusion.

Now I'm not Jewish but my cousin did marry someone who is. That being said, I still know next to nothing about Judaism
Patrick J. McAdam
After seeing on Bookbub that Amazon was offering this on Kindle for $1.99, I decided to purchase. What a great find! The storytelling was excellent and I learned some things about the Jewish religion. I'll definitely download the next in the series! ...more
COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 59 (of 250)
This Edgar Award Winning Novel has some good things going for it, but the best thing is that it's just a solid, rather short, straight-up crime story. This work is "Christie-cozy", anyone of any age can enjoy it. There is no overt violence, nothing absolutely shocking. And, oh, what I didn't know about the Jewish faith but do now!
HOOK = 3 stars: The opening lines are as follows>>>>>
"They sat in the chapel and waited. They were still
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, kindle
This is a very enjoyable character-based mystery novel. Rabbi David Small is a charming protagonist, and there’s an interesting cast of secondary characters, including police chief Hugh Lanigan, temple board president Jacob Wasserman, and the rabbi’s wife, Miriam Small. There is little or no violence and not much action. Instead, the mystery is solved primarily through intuition and logic.

When a young woman is found murdered on the grounds of Rabbi Small’s temple in the town of Barnard’s Crossi
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
First, even those who don't think much of mysteries may well like this book. Indeed, this entire series is a pleasant read. Rabbi David Small finds himself in a nasty situation as this book opens. He's a bit of a scholarly type, and he doesn't necessarily do what other rabbis do in terms of easily mixing with other congregations in the community. As a result, the members of his temple question whether he should be reinstated when his contract is out at the end of the high holy days in September. ...more
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't really get into this one and I feel bad saying that. I know extremely little about Jewish religion, laws, terminology, etc. so I was at a disadvantage. There were some things I was familiar with such as Jewish holidays. I thought it was interesting reading some of the differences between the Judaism and other religions as well as some similarities I didn't realize. The mystery fell a bit flat for me, though. I found it interesting that Rabbi Small becomes a prime suspect in a mur ...more
Greg Rothenberger
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I've always enjoyed this series, and have decided to read them all again. Rabbi Small has always been one of my favorite characters. It may have something to do with this being the first "adult" mystery I ever read. You know, something other than the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew.

In terms of sub-genre, I'm tempted to classify this one as just about a "cozy." With the obvious differences that the main characters are male, it's set in New England, and religion figures heavily in the book. The plot is p
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brisk and interesting read, the mystery was less compelling then the setting. The one question I had was when exactly this was supposed to be set, I guess the 1950s? It was one of those books where everyone was vaguely likable, had their quirks, and were basically genial even though murder was involved. Kind of a like a Jewish The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency ...more
Sue Dix
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first in the Rabbi Small mystery series and it was charming. In the course of the book, we learn a little Talmudic law and become acquainted with what a rabbi is and does and learn differences between Judaism and other religions. A really good mystery and an extremely tolerant police chief round out this delightful book. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
Joe Kessler
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This series has been on my radar for a while, and although I'm not sure I'm going to read all dozen volumes, the first one is pretty neat. It's one of those stories in which a police investigation is aided by a civilian of nontraditional wisdom and insight, but instead of an elderly spinster like Miss Marple, the surprising hero here is the only rabbi in the small New England town where a young woman has just been found murdered. He's briefly considered and dismissed as a suspect, and thereafter ...more
Michael Brown
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series-reading
The thinking man detective has been the staple of Mr. Kemelman's style in the short story. Many asked for a full length version of his work but he said many times that his Professor Wert character just did not fit in any of his attempts. While working on a non-fiction piece, things came together where he could create a new character in the style of Wert and by adding a religious touch as so many other authors had done, he could make the old idea work for him. So we now have Rabbi Small in a New ...more
Liz Mc2
Feb 16, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, mystery
My library seems to have licensed some giant collection of backlist audiobooks, and the “Rabbi” books are in there. Definitely shows its age in some ways (the smoking! the gender roles! the pay phones!). Why do I find that more awkward in books around my own age than in 19th century fiction? Anyhow, I really enjoyed the rabbi. This kind of gentle mystery is really hitting the spot for me as the pandemic wears on. Good for 3am wakeful periods. I already downloaded the next one.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Two and a half stars for what is almost a "period novel" when read from today's perspective. My, times have changed. In 1963, in well to do East Coast homes, marriage normally precluded a woman continuing to work, even if she had a university degree. Well-to-do women (without jobs or careers) apparently had maids to look after the kids. Adultery and unwed pregnancy weren't just a big deal, they were huge. Rock and roll was "that crazy music kids like today." Husbands bought the family car, and u ...more
Pat K
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF at 50% I'd found this series on audio and planned on listening to them all thinking they would be cosy mysteries, something like Father Brown mysteries. The writing is very good, the mystery was interesting but the didacticism became overwhelming and I just couldn't go on. ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rabbi David Small leads a temple in Massachusetts outside of the big city. He and his wife are just finishing their first year with the congregation and the board is considering whether or not to retain the rabbi. He did manage to make a detractor in one of his judicial decisions, so when a young woman's body is found on the temple grounds with some evidence that could implicate the rabbi, things get sticky. The local police force, including Chief Lanigan, work on finding the young woman's murde ...more
This book came out in 1965 and I did read it before at some earlier time. I just re-read it for a Jewish Bookclub discussion. In some ways it is very dated (particularly attitudes toward women and the roles women played in it), but in other aspects it was still very pertinent. A young rabbi is head of a congregation on the East Coast. This was a time when the Jewish population wanted to blend into the community and be accepted and not stand apart. They want their rabbi to help with that accepta ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people looking for light reading
Recommended to Della by: "friends of the los altos library ongoing book sale"
very enjoyable light reading-- perfect for a few long train rides. its a simple murder mystery without any gore, and if you are the careful reader, you will figure out the suspect quite quickly. if that poses no challenge, you do also get to learn a bit about the role of rabbis in general, and how they fit within their congregation.

funny thing is, the rabbi character is quite a scholar, which is sort of why he is mixed up in this murder business to begin with. you could almost substitute the ra
Aaron Sandford
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this, enough that I read the whole thing one Saturday afternoon. The writing is charming, and the relationship between the Jewish rabbi and the Catholic chief of police, as well as the relationships of the leadership in the local Jewish temple, makes a platform for some very interesting explorations of faith, culture, and ways of thinking without getting too deep. The characters were almost universally compelling. I though the answer to the mystery was perhaps a bit obvious (I ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
When I was a small child, my mother read this series about a Rabbi who solves mysteries using his Talmudic exegetical skills. I guess that is why I picked this book up at the library when it caught my eye. It's hardly deep reading, but it was really fun and engaging. Also, I have no idea where this particular book is in the series, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Fun read. ...more
It's always nice to find a charming something to read between more demanding reads! This old series is perfect; there's something quite entertaining reading about the "old days," before the Internet and cell phones and even the descriptions of so many characters (and not just the villains) enjoying their cigarettes, hearkening back to to time when what we didn't know meant we would live forever. ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
That was a fun, clean, and interesting whodunit that kept you guessing right to the end. Would like to read more in the series. It was especially interesting to learn about Jewish lifestyle and beliefs.
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
#1 in the Rabbi Small series. "1965 Edgar Award for Best First Novel; Finalist 1965 Gold Dagger Award " Auspicious start to a wonderful series.

Rabbi Small mystery - A young woman's body is left on the grounds of the temple and the renewal of the rabbi's contract is debated.

Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in the Rabbi Small series. A lot of temple politics; took a while for the crime to actually occur. The usual assortment of red herrings.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Rabbi David Small is in his first year as rabbi in a temple in Massachusetts during the 1950's or 60's. His congregation is not sure about renewing his contract as he is rather scholarly and rumpled and does not give the polished appearance that some of them expect. Then a young woman is found murdered outside of the temple parking lot and the rabbi becomes a suspect for a time. This evolves into a relationship between the Gentile Police Chief and Rabbi Small that I hope carries over to other bo ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, cozy-mystery
I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery featuring Rabbi David Small of the imaginary Yankee town of Barnard's Crossing. When the body of a murdered girl is found in the parking lot of the synagogue, suspicion falls on the rabbi, and he noses around trying to ferret out the killer.

I had never heard of this series before - this was published in 1964, but it holds up well. I learned a lot about the Jewish religion and the function of rabbis. I enjoyed the friendship that forms between the rabbi and
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although this book is over 50 years old it doesn't seem too dated. There are certain elements, like a pregnant woman smoking and phone booths, that are unusual but human nature doesn't change that much. I appreciated this story more for its interactions and Jewish thought than for its mystery. Rabbi Small is both scholarly and pragmatic and Police Chief Lanigan is open-minded and inquisitive. I want to learn more about them and Barnard's Crossing so I am looking forward to continuing this series ...more
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Harry Kemelman was an American mystery writer and a professor of English. He was the creator of one of the most famous religious sleuths, Rabbi David Small.

His writing career began with short stories for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine featuring New England college professor Nicky Welt, the first of which, "The Nine Mile Walk", is considered a classic.

The Rabbi Small series began in 1964 with the

Other books in the series

The Rabbi Small Mysteries (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry
  • Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home
  • Monday the Rabbi Took Off
  • Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red
  • Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet
  • Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out
  • Conversations with Rabbi Small
  • Someday the Rabbi Will Leave
  • One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross (The Rabbi Small Mysteries)
  • The Day the Rabbi Resigned

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