Murder at the Minyan, the topical new novel by Shulamit E. Kustanowitz, is much more than it seems. Sure, itís a mystery, but one that has no sex or profanity, very little violence, and it ends well. Thereís some humor, the cast of characters is likely to seem familiar to any shul-goer, and nothing about the plot should cost the reader a nightís sleep.
Of course, there is a murder. One congregant finds a most dastardly solution to inadequate shul attendance because it interferes with his need to say Kaddish. But thereís a lot more to the story than the murder.
The book could be called a novel about mitzvot. Throughout its 210 pages, the rabbi protagonist, Avi London, helps members of his congregation face life cycle crises and focus on traditional Jewish values.
As the story moves to its inevitable climax, it touches on societal and cultural challenges that observant and caring Jews are facing today across denominational lines. Some of the topics discussed are Shabbat observance, kashrut, Jewish education, tefilah, tzedakah, marriage, conversion, Brit Milah, honoring parents, visiting the sick, burying the dead and the treasure of Jewish unity.