Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Feast of Murder: Jane Haddam

Description from the back of the book:
Wall Street wizard Jonathan Edgewick Baird has some very good reasons for hauling friends, family and flunkies out for a Thanksgiving week cruise on his lovingly crafted duplicate of the good ship Mayflower, not the least of which are the fortuitous death of an embarrassing business associate and his own recent release from prison for insider trading. But why did Baird invite former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian, a noted murder specialist, along for the ride?
I had a sudden impulse to reread this book set at Thanksgiving, so this is my offering for Thanksgiving Day. The story doesn't have a lot of Thanksgiving spirit, but we get a good amount of background on the Mayflower and the conditions that its passengers had to endure in the trip to a new world.


Gregor Demarkian is a ex-FBI agent, a widower who has retired and is living in a community of Armenian-Americans in Philadelphia. After retirement, Gregor has been called in to consult with police departments, so he has a reputation in this new role. This year he and his friend Bennis Hannaford are heading to a Thanksgiving on a replica of the Mayflower, to avoid the traditional Thanksgiving in the neighborhood. Not because they don't enjoy being with their friends but because their friends are trying to nudge them into matrimony, and neither of them are ready to even think about that. Gregor is 56, Bennis is 20 years younger and an author of fantasy fiction.

However, if they had known how uncomfortable the Mayflower cruise would be, both in dealing with a second death, and the privations of living on a ship with few amenities, they might have stayed at home.

Each Gregor Demarkian book starts out with several brief chapters featuring the characters that the reader will be following in the story. In this book the particular set of characters are all rich and all connected with the company owned by Jon Baird. And almost all of them are unlikable. As the story opens, Baird is still in prison and looking forward to  getting out and getting on with the merger of his company with Europabanc. This prologue is unusual in that the section title is "The Death of Donald MacAdam." Often the death comes later in the book, after a good bit of set up.

I have read 24 of the 29 books in the Gregor Demarkian series. That pretty much indicates that I find Jane Haddam an author worth reading. The first book in the series, Not a Creature Was Stirring, is one of my favorite mystery novels. That one I highly recommend. The Gregor Demarkian books follow a format, but the series changes as it goes along. The earlier books were lighter, cozyish, and holiday-themed (to a certain extent) and the later books, maybe starting with Skeleton Key (#16), are darker, more serious, and less cozy. Also the later ones usually center on some social issue, although personally that doesn't pull me out of the plot. The books have well-defined characters and the stories have good pacing. The point of view switches from character to character, although not in a disorienting way, keeping the reader guessing.


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Publisher:   Bantam Books, 1992 
Length:       306 pages
Format:      Paperback Original
Series:       Gregor Demarkian, #6
Setting:      Begins and ends in Pennsylvania
Genre:       Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book.


10 comments:

  1. An excellent choice for the day, Tracy. I can see why you like the Haddam series so much, too. It's quite well-written, and I do like the George Demarkian character a lot.

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    1. Me too, Margot. I liked the earlier books, and then when they changed over to darker stories, I still liked the series.

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  2. I would probably enjoy this one, but no time to seek out another author or longish series, I'm afraid. Enjoy your holiday!

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    1. Thanks, Col, we are having a quiet holiday at home... and a four day weekend off work. My goal for 2018 is no new authors, stick with the authors I already have on the TBR. We will see how that goes.

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  3. I am with Col. No starting on a longish series, esp as I have found that unlike Poirot and Miss Marple etc, new series usually require the reader to go chronologically. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. That is true about newer series needing to be read in order, neer. And especially true of this one.

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  4. I've not read her yet and will take you up on your recommendation on her first book in that series. Even if I like it, not sure I will commit to reading them all. There are series that I quit after so long but if they are good, I don't mind reading them over time. For example, Colin Cotterill continues to write strength to strength in his excellent dr. Siri series and I'm caught up with that those. Michael Connelly continues to write but I stopped somewhere around book four but I do plan to catch up to him. You can also add Robert B. Parker's Spencer series and Ed McBain's Precinct series as among my quit/restart program as well, hehe. Hope you had a great holiday, Tracy. ---Keishon

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    1. The first book in the series is very good, Keishon, and of course works fine as a standalone and no need to continue the series. This is a series that readers tend to have strong opinions about, pro or con, so I don't like to recommend them, even though they work for me.

      I am doing the same with Michael Connelly, I want to continue his series. I started Sue Grafton's series, read about 5 books, then quit and hope to read more in the next year or so.

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  5. I so agree with you, I love the Jane Haddam books, and it was a real delight to see this one here for Thanksgiving. It's a long time since I read it, sometimes I think that (when I have some time) I will read all the Gregor de Markian books again, one after another. They have given me such pleasure over the years.

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    1. I keep being torn between rereading the earlier ones or the later ones, Moira. They are similar but different. And then there are the last few that I have not read at all.

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