Polarized by a failed fund-raising attempt, the members of Temple Rita choir are dismayed by the untimely death of a star soprano whose demise is subsequently linked to a poisoning by one of her fellow singers, one of whom takes it upon herself to identify a killer during a haphazard train trip. By the author of Which Big Giver Stole the Chopped Liver? 12,500 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Trouble is brewing in Temple Rita. First, the choir's upcoming excursion to Banff and Lake Louise is in serious jeopardy when sagging latke sales don't raise enough money for the scenic train trip. Resident busybody Essie Sue thinks that hiring Bitsy, an aging peroxide-blond tart of a party planner, can help solve their problems. Ruby, our widowed heroine, disagrees, and all Bitsy manages to do is spend more money the temple doesn't have on a pathetic Chanukah concert.
To make matters worse, Temple Rita's star soprano, Serena Salit, collapses right before her number. She's rushed to the hospital but later dies of heart failure. Ruby steps in quickly to support Serena's good friend Rose, a move that gets her right where she wants to be - in the path of the gossip - when Rose discovers some disturbing entries in Serena's electronic diary. In a file titled "Spiritual," Rose discovers secrets her friend never told her: that she was having an affair with the smarmy choir leader Andre and was involved in a neo-Kabbalistic cult. But what led her to write in her last entry, "They're frightening me"? And did "they" kill her?
Despite everything, Essie Sue insists the choir take their trip "in Serena's honor," and the whole Temple Rita group, minus the traumatized Rose, complies. While aboard the train, Ruby's suspicions of murder are confirmed by a call from her policeman boyfriend - he tells her that poison, not heart failure, caused Serena's death.
Ruby considers everyone in the Temple Rita Choir a suspect - from the tenor Andre to Serena's ex, the baritone - but not even she could imagine that her trip through the Rockies would end with a body thrown from the train and a ride on the ski lift from hell. - (Blackwell North Amer)
With her wry humor fully intact, Ruby Rothman finds herself smack in the middle of a new adventure in Kahn's Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife series. The action, as usual, centers on Rita's eclectic "family" of congregants. Self-styled "big macher" Essie Sue Margolis, still creating outrageous havoc, is on hand with Ruby when the star member of the temple choir keels over during rehearsal. The woman's unexpected death disrupts Essie Sue's plans for a temple trip to ChoirFest in Canada--though not for long. Expect some laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of red herrings--served with a hearty helping of (frozen) latkes. ((Reviewed November 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.