Glass Houses: A Gregor Demarkian Novel Hardcover – Apr 17 2007
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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.
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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).
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.