REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


JANE HADDAM – Murder Superior. Gregor Demarkian #8. Bantam, paperback original, 1993.

   I feel sort of like I shouldn’t like this series, but however unaccountably, I do. Gregor Demarkian, the retired head of the FBI’s serial killer unit, now known due to his success in several cases he has been drawn into and much to his dismay as the “Armenian Hercule Poirot,” is a character I enjoy.

   A group of nuns are having a convention in Philadelphia, among them a number whom Demarkian had met in a previous case. A reception and buffet dinner includes among its invitees not only Demarkian and several members of Philadelphia’s Main Line, but a controversial local radio show host and the head of a local construction firm who is donating a good deal of labor to one of the nuns’ construction projects.

   There are a lot of animosities floating around amid both the nuns and the secular groups, but everyone is surprised when one of the best-liked nuns drops dead at the banquet, poisoned. The situation is complicated by one of the most over-done incompetent cops I’ve come across.

   This is a typical Demarkian tale, with a longish introduction that sets the stage before bringing Demarkian to the fore to puzzle things out when the crime occurs. There have been those who called these stories boringly slow, but I prefer to think of them as leisurely paced. We’d all agree that they aren’t really exciting. They’re cozies, but they are well done, and I like the characters. Haddam is a competent writer, though not at all flashy. What can I say? I like ’em.

   It’s interesting that after a couple of hardcovers in what was a paperback original series, we’re back to a paperback original. I don’t believe these could carry a hardcover price.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #7, May 1993.


Bibliographic Note:   There are now 29 books in the Gregor Demarkian series, certainly one of the longer lasting ones of recent years. The most recent one, Fighting Chance, appeared in 2014.