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And One to Die On [Paperback]

Jane Haddam
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 3 1997
A gloomy Victorian manse, set on an island off the coast of Maine, seems an unlikely place for silent screen star Tasheba Kent's 100th birthday party. Controversy has always surrounded the mysterious megastar, so when Bennis Hannaford, bestselling author and distant cousin of Tasheba's lover, is invited to the soiree, she gladly invites her best friend, former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian.

Death, it seems, requires no invitation to the festivities, for before Tasheba can blow out her candles, a crack on the skull cheats her of her centenary. The fete grows ever grimmer as Gregor investigates slashed telephone wires, suspicious revelers, and a second body among the birthday balloons. When a mammoth storm blows up, trapping them all on the island, only Demarkian can stop a killer whose dearest wish is to kill again.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Described in the story as "Philadelphia's own Armenian-American Hercule Poirot," Gregor Demarkian tags along with his friend, fantasy novelist Bennis Hannaford, when she attends a distant relative's disastrous 100th birthday party. Tasheba Kent, once a silent screen star, caused a scandal in the 1930s when she ran off with her equally famous brother-in-law, Cavender Marsh, after her sister's mysterious death in France. The couple ensconced themselves in a gloomy mansion on an island off the coast of Maine and became recluses. For her birthday, however, they plan to auction off some of their possessions, an event drawing a motley assemblage of interested folk, including Cavender's daughter, whom he abandoned as an infant; a collector of Tasheba's memorabilia; a tabloid journalist; and an assortment of bankers and lawyers. When, during a fierce storm, Tasheba and the journalist are murdered, Gregor must call on his investigative skills, honed during his service with the FBI, and prevent another murder while he unmasks the killer. In this 10th in her holiday series after Bleeding Hearts, Haddam colors a transparent mystery plot with the traditions of gothic horror tales and silent film melodrama.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Haddam (Bleeding Hearts, 1994, etc.) must be running out of holidays: This time her homicidal tendencies are released by a birthday. But what a birthday it is--Tasheba Kent's centenary, designed to kick off an auction of memorabilia from her silent- film career. What actually kicks off, of course, is Tasheba herself, whose inaccessible private island off the Maine coast is awash in dead telephones, recorded screams, telltale cufflinks and feather boas, as well as suspects who wonder whether Tasheba's longtime companion Cavender Marsh really killed his wife, Lilith Brayne, back in 1938 in order to spend the rest of his life with her sister. Detection honors go to ex-FBI agent Gregor Demarkian, who spends an awful long time working up to the obvious solution. Minor Haddam, this cheerfully brazen homage to Ten Little Indians still has all the sparkle and complexity her fans have come to expect. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 100th. birthday of an aging screen star Jan. 31 2004
Format:Paperback
Tasheba Kent has decided to celebrate her 100th. birthday by inviting people to her home for an auction of her memorabilia. She invites a diverse group which includes her lawyer, her accountant, a reporter, her daughter, and a collector of movie souvenirs. The auction seems strange because Tasheba and her husband Cavender have been recluses on a remote island off the coast of Maine for many years. Among the guests are writer Bennis Hannaford and her friend Gregor Demarkian, an ex-F.B.I. agent. The presence of Demarkian seems to make some of the guests nervous, and some of them appear to have secrets to hide. There is a severe storm which traps the guests on the island and soon dead bodies begin to appear. As in Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians", the people on the island begin to fear one another. Demarkian, however, has the solution to the murders all figured out, and eventually he shares his findings with the guests. Haddam is a good writer, and she creates interesting characters in a foreboding setting. There are a few points of the plot which don't make much sense, but all in all, this is a a good read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars a shallow grave candidate March 15 2004
Format:Paperback
The other reviewers have described the plot for this mystery novel with skill. My review consists only of comments to assist new Jane Haddam fans.
Do I think this novel is worth buying? No. Worth reading? Only for die-hard fans.
If you feel you must read all of her novels, check this one out of the public library. I feel it is her weakest effort. Except for Gregor & Bennis (who are the only decent parts of the novel), the characters are all shallow and two dimensional. The murderer is obvious & more of a caricature than a character. Gregor gets quite testy with the games that his fellow inhabitants of the island are playing -- who could blame him? Not me. They are a shrill and unappealing group.
Of all her titles that I have read, I like this one the least. My apologies to the author for this review! I generally like her work tremendously & have started buying her more recent work in hardback.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a shallow grave candidate March 15 2004
By Carol Mello - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The other reviewers have described the plot for this mystery novel with skill. My review consists only of comments to assist new Jane Haddam fans.
Do I think this novel is worth buying? No. Worth reading? Only for die-hard fans.
If you feel you must read all of her novels, check this one out of the public library. I feel it is her weakest effort. Except for Gregor & Bennis (who are the only decent parts of the novel), the characters are all shallow and two dimensional. The murderer is obvious & more of a caricature than a character. Gregor gets quite testy with the games that his fellow inhabitants of the island are playing -- who could blame him? Not me. They are a shrill and unappealing group.
Of all her titles that I have read, I like this one the least. My apologies to the author for this review! I generally like her work tremendously & have started buying her more recent work in hardback.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 100th. birthday of an aging screen star Jan. 31 2004
By Karen Potts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Tasheba Kent has decided to celebrate her 100th. birthday by inviting people to her home for an auction of her memorabilia. She invites a diverse group which includes her lawyer, her accountant, a reporter, her daughter, and a collector of movie souvenirs. The auction seems strange because Tasheba and her husband Cavender have been recluses on a remote island off the coast of Maine for many years. Among the guests are writer Bennis Hannaford and her friend Gregor Demarkian, an ex-F.B.I. agent. The presence of Demarkian seems to make some of the guests nervous, and some of them appear to have secrets to hide. There is a severe storm which traps the guests on the island and soon dead bodies begin to appear. As in Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians", the people on the island begin to fear one another. Demarkian, however, has the solution to the murders all figured out, and eventually he shares his findings with the guests. Haddam is a good writer, and she creates interesting characters in a foreboding setting. There are a few points of the plot which don't make much sense, but all in all, this is a a good read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read Aug. 12 2002
By J. Kreuser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What a great read. I am so happy I tumbled onto author Jane Haddam. This is my second of her Gregor Demarkian novels and I am now going to go back to book one and read them in order.
What could be more intriguing? Bennis is invited to the 100th birthday of silver screen great, Tasheba Kent, who lives on a small secluded island off the coast of Maine with another silver screen legend, Cavender Marsh, a cousin of Bennis'. And, of course, when Bennis goes, Gregor goes along . . .
It seems Cavender was once married to Tasheba's sister (another screen legend from the 30s), and after her questionable death moved to the Maine island and isolation with Tasheba. The birthday party guests are a different lot (and include Cavender's estranged daughter from his marriage to Tasheba's sister)and once they are all on the island strange things start happening, starting with the first murder.
Who done it? A reviewer should never tell. In the case of this book, I was glad it was who it was--and I had a great time getting there.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gregor Demarkian March 25 2013
By Lynda Baut - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love all of Jane Haddam's books and am working very hard to collect them all. Gregor Demarkian is the greatest
4.0 out of 5 stars Good puzzle, disappointing resolution July 22 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Gregor Demarkian, retired FBI agent and administrator, accompanies Bennis Day Hannaford to the one hundredth birthday of a distant cousin. The cousin is a reclusive silent-film star; her husband, a star of a slightly later vintage. They were the toast of their age and the center of a tragedy and scandal. Now they must celebrate Tasheba Kent's century by auctioning some of their prized mementos.

The colors of the party are both gaudy and ghastly, yet this reader felt that the whole story was set in black and white, grey and silver, limelight and (mostly) shadow. Creepy collectors and angry relatives take their places stage right and left as the recluses' Victorian hideaway is cut off from the world by a storm. And then the murders begin.

I found the puzzle satisfying, especially in the roles played by various characters. The solution felt right, but the resolution disappointed me. It might be reasonable in real life and it might not, but it didn't feel like a Gregor Demarkian story, perhaps because he had no part to play in restoring the balance of justice.

On the strength of the puzzle, I give One To Die On four stars. I could justify giving it only three, but I recommend it for its strong parts: a multilayered puzzle in which the deaths are themselves clues and for the atmosphere. The extravegant special effects and the out-of-control resolution can disappoint, but they don't weaken a very strong set-piece.
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