(creator: Barb Goffman)

Barb Goiffman
Job is featured in the Book of Job in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. He suffers a series of catastrophes at the hand of God and keeps raising the question, "Why do the righteous have to suffer?" In the end, God puts him in his place, saying, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

In the The Lord Is My Shamus short story, Job is sent down from the "afterworld" by God to "do some investigating for me .... You of all people understand suffering and the need to know why it happens. So I want you to help this man's family by looking into his death and encouraging the killer to admit hIs sins and repent." There's a blinding flash and Job, who is the narrator throughout, finds himself in modern Manhattan dressed in modern clothes and bereft of his flowing locks. As he comments, "I know I shouldn't care about my appearance, but after you've had the same look as many centuries as I have, you get kind of attached to it."

He finds it easy to find the murder victim's family with the aid of two scraps of paper God has conveniently put in his trouser pocket. It turns out to be a Jewish family, so Job introduces himself to them in the guise of a grief counsellor sent by the local rabbi. There's a lot about shiva, mitzvah, shanda, rugelach
and the like, but there are lively portrayals of the family:
"Stop calling me Kayla," the middle girl said with gritted teeth. "Okay. My name is Kay."
"I'm so sorry, Kay," her mother threw her hands in the air. "I did have a role in naming you, you know. Seventeen years you've been Kayla, but now noooo. Now suddenly you're Kay."
"Oh yes, a big happy family," comments Job. But it turns out that all the family had had good motives to murder the father who had, they explained to him, unfortunately tripped over their kitten and fallen down the stairs. In the end, though, the murderer admits all and is persuaded by Job to go off to confess to the rabbi.

It's all quite entertaining, if not all that consistent, as Job is surprised to find "women walking around immodestly in a state of undress" but accepts automobiles without question. "I knew how the Earth had changed during my years in the after-world – I like keeping up on things – but actually seeing it in person? Oy vey!"

In the end, the real detective turns out to be not Job but the dead man's wife who had picked up the most significant clue. Job hadn't even suspected the guilty person. As he subsequently tells God, "That's what I get for taking classes from Moses. Sure, he knows his Torah, but he also got lost in the desert for forty days." It's certainly original.

Barb Goffman grew up on Long Island, went to college in Michigan, followed by grad school in Illinois, and law school in North Carolina. She then worked as a newspaper reporter for several years before starting to make her living as an attorney. She began writing crime fiction in 2001, since when she has published a number of short stories. She hopes that her first story featuring Job, reviewed above, will be followed by others.

The author has her own website.and there is an interesting interview with her on the Writers Who Kill blog.

Please sign my GUEST BOOK. All comments, contributions (or corrections) welcomed!


Don't Get Mad, Get Even cover
The Lord Is My Shamus is included in the above anthology or you can read it online.
Job by William Blake
William Blake's portrayal of Job's friends telling him that he must have committed some terrible sin to bring all his suffering upon himself.
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