No Saving Grace

While trying to clear a rabbi of murder, Matt Jacob delves too deeply into Hasidic orthodoxy and a White supremacist movement. As lines blur between good and evil, right and wrong, even Matt may find it impossible to turn the other cheek.

The Forward

"By the novel's end, Matt faces a difficult choice. He can see justice through to its bitter end at the risk of becoming just another 'walking ideology blinded by commitment.' Or he can accept imperfection in the world but hold onto his humanity..."

Kirkus Reviews

"Like Phillip Marlowe, Matt seems to take every case as an invitation to look deeper inside himself..."

Hadassah Magazine

"...Jacob is a man in search of himself as much as he is in search of solutions. When the perpetrators are revealed, the surprise is real and discomfiting; as the title states, the truth offers No Saving Grace."

Publishers Weekly

"…When Matt gets revved up on the case instead of coke, the situation demonstrates enough complexity, depth, and surprise to command his, and the reader's full attention."

Read a sample chapter from No Saving Grace

No Saving Grace


When the telephone screams at four A.M., you can make book it ain’t the State waking you into an instant million. I wide-eyed the shadow-mottled ceiling and thought hard about letting my 1940s black Bakelite model cry itself back to sleep. But bad news always gets through the door so I shoved my hand toward the receiver and grabbed hold.

“I’m glad you didn’t use my last check for an answering machine.” The joke was forced, Simon’s voice tight with fatigue.

“You don’t pay enough. Damn, Simon, the only time you’re supposed to see four in the morning is when you party on through.”

“Believe me, this is no party,” he muttered. “What’s with you, Matt? Why aren’t you yelling at me? You sound awake, almost chipper. Julius bring you a batch of uppers?”

I glanced at the bedside table and realized I had fallen asleep before I’d smoked the usual lullaby pipe. “You didn’t call to practice stand-up,” I snapped, suddenly annoyed. “Who died?”

“Reb Dov.”

I had a momentary vision of birds falling from the sky. “Who? What are you talking about?”

“Rabbi Dov Horowitz. It was a prime-time murder. Turn on your television.”

I took another look at my full pipe. “I don’t want to turn on the television. I want to go back to sleep.”

“Matt-man, I just got back from Cop Central. Come over and I’ll explain, but goddamnit, don’t do any drugs. I gotta have you alert.”

His urgency was unusual. Since Simon and I reconnected, he’d been my major source of work, which meant I worked regularly but never really urgently. When Simon originally bought me my PI ticket, he was teamed with his father-in-law Alex on the briefcase-and-Bimmer side of the legal fence. In those days I did his corporate research inside libraries.

After Alex’s death, Simon’s practice evolved and my work became a little more interesting. Now he chewed on some of those same companies, especially the ones that inflicted serious hurt on their neighbors and workers. When Simon got involved, poisoned people pocketed serious green in trade for their shortened lives. And I pocketed mine for doing interviews, research, and legwork. Sometimes it felt like blood money, but I enjoyed collecting the Suit’s donations.

I squinted toward the clock which still read the wrong time for my kind of corporate head-hunting. “You want me to come to the office now?” I knew he wasn’t inviting me to his home. We’d moved on together, but Fran, Simon’s wife, still had trouble with me. That was all right, I still had trouble with me too.

“Since when do you do homicide?” I joked.

“When I have to,” he said guardedly after a moment’s hesitation. “Look, I don’t want to kibitz. I’ve been working all fucking night, and the sooner you get here the sooner I’ll be able to leave.”

I had regretted my homicide remark right after I’d said it but, before I could promise to show, the line went belly up. I slipped the heavy black receiver back into its cradle, stretched across the bed, and plucked the pipe from the ashtray.

I fired up on the way to the kitchen where I fixed half espresso, half French. The coffeepot perked despite the unreasonable hour. I dressed, found the remote lurking under the couch, located my cigarettes, and marveled at my energy. It was hours before dawn and I was charged, smoking, mon. Then I yawned watching the gray tendrils from both the cigarette and pipe float upward, interlocking over the brown glass ashtray. No doubt about the smoking.

I fished the electronic ocean until I hooked the news: bearded Jews wearing calf-length black coats, fur-trimmed upturned hats and flowing earlocks running panic-stricken in every direction. Cries of disbelief and wails of keening prayers accompanied their frantic movements. The news director let the tape roll without voice-over or explanation. Four-thirty in the morning was television art time.

I jacked up the anguish and retreated to the kitchen. The coffee was ready and so, mercifully, was the announcer. The leader of an ultra-Orthodox sect had been shot and killed by a member of an anti-Semitic gang called the White Avengers. He shot the Rabbi while the congregation danced in the street during their Simchas Torah celebration. I initially guessed that Simon had been retained by the gang, but the late night commentator kept talking. One of the dancing Rabbis had demanded an immediate “eye-for-an-eye,” dropping the anti-Semite with a bullet to the chest. That left Simon with the Rabbi.

Which made more sense. Hard to see my friend losing sleep over a New Age Nazi. The TV announcer promised an in-depth background report on the Jewish sect and its neighboring Irish community following a dog food commercial. I slapped at the remote. I wasn’t hungry and didn’t own a dog.

I dumped the ashes from my pipe, smoked another cigarette, and looked at my sorry reflection in the kitchen window. I belonged in bed. What the hell was Simon doing working a criminal case? Worse. What the hell was I doing up?