The Rossini Redemption — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Avi Katz -- The Rossini RedemptionHaim Watzman

So intensely was I listening to my iPod that I bumped straight into Haim Abutbul as I galloped into the stairwell leading up to my apartment. Haim is my downstairs neighbor, and other than sharing a name, we don’t have much in common. He’s Moroccan, retired, round, short, and has a moustache. I’m the opposite.

After I apologized and he mumbled an acceptance, he strode right past me, smeared silicone on the door jamb, and affixed a clear plastic mezuzah. Stepping back to admire his handiwork, he bumped into me again. This time he apologized and I mumbled.

“I bought a new one,” he explained. “New housing, new and expert parchment. The works.”

I nodded, in rush to get upstairs to a long-delayed lunch. “Tizkeh lemitzvot,” may you perform many other good deeds, I said. I put a foot on the bottom step but Haim would not let me go.

“Haim, you must have noticed that a lot of people in our entrance have been getting sick lately,” Haim said ominously.

“I hadn’t,” I apologized. “I feel fine myself.”

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Tony Hillerman Leaves the Mystery of Justice Unsolved

Tony Hillerman has gone to reap his heavenly reward.

I begin that way only because I’m sure that the comment would bemuse Hillerman, who died this week at age 83.

You could sum up Hillerman’s career by saying he wrote murder mysteries, mostly about two Navajo policemen. But for my money, that would be like saying that Jane Austen wrote romances, as if they were bodice-rippers.

I’m not usually a reader of mysteries. Raymond Chandler’s critique of the mystery writers before him, in his essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” is blunt, brutal and accurate:

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