Wednesday, July 16

Cheating at Solitaire - Jane Haddam

In his 22nd outing, former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian ("the Armenian Hercule Poirot") and heiress/FSF writer and Bennis Hannaford are planning to marry after a long relationship. Unsurprisingly, Kavanagh Street is going overboard and, also unsurprisingly, all the fuss is drivng Gregor crazy. An elopement would be easier, but Bennis wants a wedding, and his friends would be hurt and disappointed. When a case offers him a chance to escape the frills and furbellows for a bit, Gregor heads to New England, where a high profile celebrity murder beckons.
Arrow Normand, an actress better known for her steady decline into drinks, drugs and inappropriate shenanigans off set than for her talents, was filming on Margaret's Harbour, an island populated by wary locals and hit by a brutal nor'easter. In the midst of the chaos Arrow's boyfriend du jour, Mark Anderman, was killed, and Arrow's been charged with the murder.
Cheating at Solitaire is a welcome addition to the Demarkian stable - Haddam not only maintains the character of Gregor, but also does a great job of contrasting his old world outlook with the tinselised stars of fifteen-minute fame and pseudo-celebrity, a significant change from his usual cases. The characters and interplay of the three main women - Arrow, her good friend Marcey Mandret, and Hiltonesque Kendra Rhode - makes Cheating at Solitaire fascinating and unique. This sin't my favourite Demarkian novel but it's up there. - Alex

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