cover image SOMEBODY ELSE'S MUSIC: A Gregor Demarkian Mystery

SOMEBODY ELSE'S MUSIC: A Gregor Demarkian Mystery

Jane Haddam, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-27186-2

Edgar and Anthony award finalist Haddam combines two horror movie clichés—the Friends Who Share a Terrible Secret and the Nasty Clique in High School—with crisp character development and a roadrunner-swift plot in her latest puzzle (after 2001's True Believers) to feature her Armenian-American sleuth. Liz Tolliver—author, CNN panelist, fiancée of a rock star—returns home to Hollman, Pa., the Velveeta beginnings of her now Brie life. Known as "Betsy Wetsy" back in high school, Liz was the butt of a group of teenaged girls who make Carrie's classmates look like Rosie O'Donnell; they locked her in an outhouse with 22 snakes the same evening another high school senior had his throat slit. The toxic passions surrounding both incidents revive after three decades. Haddam's cutting between the viewpoints of Liz's six female tormentors is at times confusing, and their hatred of Liz can seem over-the-top: after 30 years, they all but spit when they see her. Demarkian takes a long time to enter the plot, but once in Hollman, his skills—and celebrity—shine light on the town's dark secrets. "Every school class had a target. It was just the way the world worked," one of the cool crowd believes. Demarkian muses: "The 'popular' people are 'popular' by virtue of being envied and hated by ninety-nine percent of the people they go to school with. Does anybody but me think that's very strange?" Haddam movingly explores what that means for our lives—past, present and future—and how that happens and why. Regional author tour. Agent, Don Maass. (June 17)