Take one feisty unemployed female journalist, the violent murder of a young Orthodox diamond dealer, a trail of colorful suspects, the famed NYC Diamond District setting, and what emerges is an engaging and suspenseful crime mystery, A Murder is Forever.
Rob Bates’s first novel in a planned series of three, is steeped in Diamond District insider information and fascinating tidbits. Bates’s familiarity with and knowledge of the industry are based on his more than twenty-five year career in this close-knit, insular business. He is currently News Director of JCK, a jewelry trade publication, as well as an oft-quoted and noted authority in his field. Bates is also a comedic writer and performer, and his flair for humor is apparent in his narration, dialogue, and approach.
Mimi Rosen, recently divorced and out of work, takes what she desperately hopes is a temporary position answering phones at her father’s small 47th St. jewelry business. Mimi is at a crossroads in her life and her impulsiveness and stubbornness have stymied her journalism career. Now fully immersed in the secular world, she doesn’t see eye to eye with her traditional father and Orthodox family.
Mimi’s younger cousin, Yosef, newly engaged to her father’s secretary, Channah, is murdered in a parking garage while carrying a rare $4 million 3.2 carat radiant pink diamond. Mimi, spurred on by the bereaved Channah, turns amateur detective and sets out to solve the murder, using her reporting skills to unearth and investigate dangerous and unsettling leads. She sets her own duplicitous traps that mirror some of the deceit she encounters in her relentless quest to find the truth.
In an industry where trust is based on a handshake and the words, ”mazel und broche” (luck and blessing) to seal a deal, Mimi finds light and openness elusive. As Mimi meets traders, graders, industry executives, small time operators, etc. she finds that as her father said, “The diamond business is not about sorting the gems, it’s about sorting the people.” Mimi’s pursuit leads her through family entanglements, religious rituals, romance, clandestine actions, and a gunfight while she encounters people, who, like diamonds, are sometimes seriously flawed. She discovers how diamond grading and classifying lie at the heart of the mystery. As Mimi solves Yosef’s murder she begins to come to terms with her own life and choices.
The plot-driven narrative moves speedily along in concise short chapters that feature twists, turns, and surprises. There’s also a Glossary of Yiddish/Hebrew/Diamond Industry terms readers will find helpful. The background and history of the diamond industry are expertly woven into the story; readers will learn how diamonds are valued, marketed, and supplied. Current issues such as Indian Jains entering the market, blood and synthetic diamonds, and safeguards and reforms are addressed.
A Murder Is Forever is an entertaining and captivating read. Mimi’s next adventure will be eagerly awaited by Bates’s newfound fans.
Renita Last is a member of the Nassau Region of Hadassah’s Executive Board. She has coordinated the Film Forum Series for the Region and served as Programming and Health Coordinators and as a member of the Advocacy Committee.
She has volunteered as a docent at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County teaching the all- important lessons of the Holocaust and tolerance. A retired teacher of the Gifted and Talented, she loves participating in book clubs and writing projects.