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Glass Houses: A Gregor Demarkian Novel Hardcover – Apr 17 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (April 17 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312343078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312343071
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.9 x 24.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,882,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In the 22nd Gregor Demarkian book (after 2006's Hardscrabble Road), Haddam as usual effortlessly melds a puzzling mystery—a baffling serial murder case in Philadelphia—with the latest developments in the romance between her FBI profiler hero and his longtime lover, Bennis Hannaford. The perpetrator, named the Plate Glass Killer, targets unattractive middle-aged women, leaving their bodies in alleys, their faces mutilated by glass. The body count has reached double digits by the time Gregor (known popularly as the Armenian-American Hercule Poirot) is consulted, and he finds that the official investigation is a mess due to hostility among the senior detectives. The resolution may be a tad far-fetched, but the intelligent, thoughtful prose elevates this twisty whodunit far above most other contemporary traditional mysteries. The author also deserves plaudits for making the long and complex Gregor-Bennis relationship accessible to first-time readers. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Former FBI profiler Gregor Demarkian returns in the twenty-first installment of this popular series, which still feels fresh and exciting after all these years. This time Demarkian is hired to help prove the innocence of a man who has confessed to being Philadelphia's infamous Plate Glass Killer. Haddam asks some big questions--What kind of person becomes a serial killer? What kind of person claims to be one when he isn't?--and she turns finding the answers into a journey that is both exciting and thoughtful, thanks largely to the insight and charisma of her hero. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A good Demarkian mystery, if a bit frazzled April 25 2007
By MysteryPoodle - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In this latest installment of the Gregor Demarkian mysteries, the retired head of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences unit is asked, first by the attorney of the suspected serial killer, and then by the prosecution, to look into a series of crimes because no one feels sure that they have the right man. The crimes involve the non-sexual deaths of middle-aged women whose faces are then mutilated, causing the press to dub them all the work of the "Plate Glass Killer." But just as Demarkian gets into the case, his live-in girlfriend, Bennis Hannaford, returns from her unexplained and uncommunicative absence of almost a year. Then another body is discovered, and the stories of the various men who have been picked up on suspicion in the case but released are intertwined with the Demarkian's sleep-deprived and frustrating reunion with Bennis.

Papazoglou inserts a lot of politics into her books, but the characters remain generally open-minded and not terribly strident about them, so I tend not to mind too much. The characters DO talk A LOT, much of it seemingly inconsequential to plot development. In general, I think this gives a great feel for the Armenian culture that provides the basis for Demarkian and his neighborhood. For a terrific contrast, read one of these books and then one of J.A. Jance's Joanna Brady novels, where the dialogue is so stilted as to fall over and no one says anything that isn't absolutely required; Texans may be terse, but I bet they still talk sometimes, other than to impart actual data. However, in this book, the "chattiness" also sometimes spills over to the non-neighborhood charactes, such as the D.A. and the Police Chief, and then it doesn't work. For example, I can't believe that the D.A. would be moaning about how he's getting a migraine and he doesn't get migraines when execrable police work is being exposed. When things are that bad, people who have succeeded in The System don't even think about saying things that might sound flippant. They tend to talk less, getting very analytical and showing less emotion.

The execrable police work is rather beaten to death, also. It seems that everyone in law enforcement knows the two detectives on the case can't work together and are therefore doing an absolutely inadequate job, but those in charge feel that their hands are tied because of in-house legal wrangling and politics. I don't buy that -- once Demarkian forces the issue, the two are quickly enough off the case, so why bother with any of it?

Lastly, Demarkian is an older guy, and he and most of the other characters don't get much sleep in this book, and it is hard on everyone, including the reader.

So, not the best of the Demarkian books, but not the worst. Demarkian's work, itself, always seems very true to form and is fascinating. And there are parts of the book that provide tremendous character insight and thus deveopment in only a brief sentence or so, which makes the whole thing so much more involving and thought-provoking than the run-of-the-mill mystery novel.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Typical Gregor Demarkian mystery, but that's not bad Aug. 12 2007
By Book and Dog Lover - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Gregor Demarkian, known as the Armenian Hercule Poirot, is asked by one of his neighbors, Russ Donahue, to look into a case. Russ is the attorney for Henry Tyder, a semi-homeless alcoholic, who has confessed to being the Plate Glass killer - a serial killer in Philadelphia who has been murdering middle-aged women. Russ doesn't believe he's guilty and Gregor agrees to investigate.

This is a typical Jane Haddam book, whereby the characters are introduced in the first section of the novel. You get to read each character's thoughts and point of view about the mystery and about life. Some it is interesting, some of it just seems wordy and long. Yes, the author seems to interject her point of view on issues, but most of the time, it's not over the top and adds to the character. There is a brief mention of the Catholic Church, though, thankfully, not as much as in her other novels. Cavanaugh Street (the street where Gregor lives) and the Armenian culture are here too, but it seems brief - there's only a brief mention of Father Tibor and the rest of Gregor's neighbors. This book brings back the whole Bennis/Gregor relationship (which I've had enough of - that story line seems to have been dragged out forever.)

Overall, this is a pretty good Gregor Demarkian book, but not a great one. Yes, it seems a tad wordy. And I found the problem with the detectives in the case rather unbelievable (would any city with a serial killer allow that situation to continue?). But if you're a fan of Gregor Demarkian, you'll like this book. If you've never read a Gregor Demarkian/Jane Haddam book, I wouldn't recommend that you start with this one - there are many characters mentioned in this book that were first introduced in Hardscrabble Road. If you can find them, read one of her earlier books (the very early books - in the holiday theme, for example, Bleeding Hearts for Valentine's Day - are great books to start the series).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Gregor and the Serial Killer July 22 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Gregor Demarkian retired from the FBI, he was an expert in serial killers and poisons. In his previous 'extracurricular' cases (as he calls them) he has solved poisonings. Now he ask to analyze the crimes of a possible serial killer. But the pattern is obscure and the police work has been deficient. The solution will require breaking the pattern. As Gregor says, killers may not be rational, but they are logical.

This is not one of Haddam's top-tier Demarkian stories, but it is pretty good. The solution is not at all obvious. I found myself looking in the right direction, but I never came near the answer.

As usual, Haddam illustrates some character defects. Some are integral to the story but there is one huge target set out for nothing more than target practice. It didn't spoil the story for me, but some might disagree.

If you like Haddam and Demarkian, this is a good read. If you are new to them, you might want to try Precious Blood or A Stillness in Bethlehem first to see them at their best. But it probably won't disappoint.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A consistent theme among the characters Sept. 8 2007
By R. Kelly Wagner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In many of the books in this series, Haddam has a particular theme that in one way or another, all of the characters are either thinking about or demonstrating by their actions. In this volume, that theme is "cognitive dissonance" although she never uses that exact term. More about that in a moment.

First, a few quick things I have to pick on. As other reviewers have said, the situation with the two detectives on the case is a little unbelievable in terms of actual police procedures - but it does certainly fit in with the cognitive dissonance theme! Second, Bennis comes back, rather improbably without a very good explanation, and equally improbably, Gregor accepts that lack of an explanation. Frankly, I did not like this development; in my mind, Bennis is a little too quirky, and not particularly good for Gregor, and I had liked in the previous book that she disappears and Gregor starts dating someone else. Oh well. I suppose there were many fans of this relationship, and in terms of the overall story arc across volumes, it's not totally unexpected.

Next, a few quick things I particularly liked: the recurrance of minor characters from previous books, now playing bigger parts - Edmund "Chickie" George, Alexander Mark, some of the nuns. Some new bit characters I wouldn't mind seeing more of - Tyrell Moss, the shopkeeper, and the teenager he is trying to convince to live in the real world rather than a fantasy thug world. Like the characters in the book, I don't ever want to see Phillipa Lydgate, the English reporter, ever again - but the portrayal of her, and of our regular characters' reactions to her, is certainly funny!

Now. Back to that cognitive dissonance stuff. As I was reading the book it occurred to me that was the theme; by an odd coincidence, unplanned, the next book I picked up after this one was "Mistakes Were Made" (Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts) which is by a couple of sociologists explaining how many of us use self-justification to hold contrary beliefs at the same time, and what effect that has on our overall thinking about politics, about our own marriages and childhoods, and about crime, among other things. The page before the title of contents of "Mistakes Were Made" includes the following quote:
"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time; the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." -- George Orwell (1946)
This is a really good quote to have in mind as one reads "Glass Houses" - watch it apply to Phillipa, to Charles - and, in ways bigger or smaller, to everyone in the book. From Phillipa's knee-jerk atheism (hey, *I'm* an atheist and I didn't like her attitude or the way she treated other people's beliefs), to Alexander's ability to be a sincere practicing Catholic while being gay; from Margaret's ability to remember her childhood as golden to Elizabeth, her sister and not that far from her in age, remembers the same years and the same parents rather negatively; from Dennis's managing to convince himself that his perversions are actually better than normal, to Marty Gale and Cord Leehan managing to hate the stereotypes of each other that they see without ever even noticing each other as real individuals. Perhaps the only characters who are open-minded enough not to indulge in more self-justification than is needed (they do give some, but they really are justified!) are the evidence clerks Betty and Martha.

In short, in this book, psychology and sociology play so big a part that they might almost be considered characters in their own right. It's fascinating reading, and for me, interesting enough to more than make up for what I perceived to be weaknesses in how the regular characters behaved. And I think that now that I've also read the above-mentioned book about cognitive dissonance, I'm going to go re-read "Glass Houses" so that I can play I Spy the various forms of self-delusion and self-justification. I would hope that many other readers would find the same amusement.
A Five Star Review Feb. 5 2008
By Dr. Wesley V. Hromatko - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Glass Houses is a find for the mystery addict. Haddam enters new territory with her sleuth Gregor, who at last learns the secret of Bennis's disappearance, and unravels a messy mystery. Those who just want to follow her characters or try to solve the story themselves will be rewarded. Haddam fans should be warned, however, Cavanaugh street may never be quite the same.