Archive for March 24th, 2014

Thanks to Jill Yesko, author of A Very Un-Kosher Mystery, for stopping by and sharing some background information about her new novel.

A Very Un-Kosher Mystery by Jill Yesko

Jill Yesko Headshot “Orthodox Jewish make up a large portion of Pikesville’s estimated 100,000 Jews. Pikesville is home to Seven Mile Market—the largest kosher supermarket in the U.S.

On Friday nights, the start of the Jewish Sabbath, the streets are filled with Orthodox men in black suits, many sporting Paul Bunyan beards and wide-brimmed fedoras. Some have payot—curly side burns that hang in front of their ears. Their modestly dressed spouses wear loose-fitting dresses that cover their necks and elbows and reach below their knees. Married women hide their hair under stylish wigs called sheitles.

But not everything is kosher in Pikesville.

Like all insular religious communities—Amish, fundamentalist Mormons, Hari Krishnas— Pikesville’s Orthodox have their secrets. Airing the community’s dirty laundry to outsiders is a sin. Which is why I chose ‘Westwood’ (the fictitious name I gave to Pikesville) as the setting for my second novel, Dog Spelled Backwards: An Unholy Mystery.

DogSpelledBackwards Dog was inspired by real-life events in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. In 2011, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum became the first person in the U.S. convicted of organ trafficking when he pleaded guilty to selling black market kidneys at a huge mark up. Rosenbaum claimed he was providing a public service, and that he was simply an altruistic matchmaker saving lives.

If black market kidneys were being brokered in Brooklyn, surely something similar must be occurring in Pikesville, I thought.

I wrote my anti-heroine Jane Ronson into the middle of a black market organ operation run by a Jewish doctor who may or may not be being blackmailed by a rabbi of dubious provenance.

As Jane is drawn deeper into the mystery (she must dress and act the part of a pious Jewish woman to infiltrate the Orthodox community), she tries to make sense of arcane rules and ways of the Orthodox.

I wanted Jane to initially see the Orthodox community through the eyes of an outsider, much like Harrison Ford’s character views the Amish in the movie Witness.

Shayna, the rabbi’s seemingly subservient wife, was created as a foil for Jane. At first Jane thinks Shayna is a pushover and mocks her for doing nothing in her life except having children and agreeing to her husband’s every whim. But once Jane and Shayna join forces—think Thelma and Louise—Jane sees a side of Shayna that scares the hell out of her.

‘A bubbled in my brain. Maybe it was the Percocet distorting my judgment, or maybe I’d finally figured out why Shayna got under my skin: Shayna was like me—she was a living, breathing version of my id.

Now I had to make sure my id didn’t plug me in the other shoulder.’

In the end, Jane comes away with begrudging respect for the Orthodox, though not before nearly getting killed by the Russian mob.

I hope you enjoy Dog Spelled Backwards and its prequel Murder in the Dog Park.”

Want to learn more about Jill and her books?
Visit her at www.murderinthedogpark.com , follow her on Twitter @jillyesko, join her Murder in the Dog Park Facebook page, and look for her books on Amazon and elsewhere.

Thanks again to Jill Yesko for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occassional weekend, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a magical day – Vonnie

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