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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
The Hasidic Rebbe's Son by Joan Lipinsky Cochran is the second book in the thriller Becks Ruchinsky Mystery series, preceded by The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter, both of which read as stand-alones. In this installment, we meet a Hasidic Jewish student named Menachem “Menny” Tannenbaum as he flees through the streets and subways of New York City from a man in pursuit, the same man who roped his childhood friend Levy into a drug-trafficking scheme that ended with a prison sentence. Two years later Menny is at the home of a college friend in Boca Raton named Gabe, the son of Becks Ruchinsky, who reluctantly lets Menny stay. Not believing a story about the young man in hiding from a kidnapper, Becks retraces Menny's steps after he disappears from a kosher deli with an unidentified man, until the trail leads her to the banks of a canal to identify the body of a young man she does know: Menny.
The Hasidic Rebbe's Son is a fantastic mystery crafted to weave through two worlds in a network of leads with as many divergent channels as Florida's canals themselves. Joan Lipinsky Cochran digs up the complex social construct of a community rarely breached by outsiders as her intelligent, persistent, and resourceful protagonist Becks attempts to prove that Menny did not just accidentally slip off his bike, hit his head, and drown in a canal. The writing is tight and fast-paced and I loved Cochran's shifts between “frummers” and the secular drug trade. It's an absolute treat as a reader to be immersed in the convergence of polar opposite but somehow parallel worlds. We are also given the opportunity to truly get to know Becks and her family, and her relationship with them. Gabe begins to show signs of Menny's influence in his own newfound adherence to faith and the marriage of Becks and Daniel, who we find has overcome some genuinely massive hurdles, are brought to life in the shadow of Menny's death. Becks' father, Tootsie, is one of those characters who is so devoid of a filter that the offensive things that come tumbling out of his mouth essentially make him the loud and abhorrent family member most of us all have in our family, an authentic touch that further solidifies Cochran's grasp of family dynamics. As a mystery and a thriller, this book sits firmly at the top of my "you really have to read this" stack. Very highly recommended.