cover image Hardscrabble Road: A Gregor Demarkian Novel

Hardscrabble Road: A Gregor Demarkian Novel

Jane Haddam, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-312-35373-5

Credible characters and an intriguing plot laced with both humor and political commentary lift Haddam's outstanding 21st Gregor Demarkian novel to feature the retired FBI agent known as the Armenian-American Hercule Poirot (after 2005's The Headmaster's Wife ). Like Agatha Christie or P.D. James, Haddam uses multiple perspectives to portray her central character—Drew Harrigan, a rabid right-wing Philadelphia radio host who will remind many of Rush Limbaugh. Harrigan has been arrested on drug charges, and his conviction would complicate many lives. His alleged supplier, an alcoholic homeless man named Sherman, is also in big trouble. After Sherman turns up apparently poisoned, Demarkian joins the police and DA in investigating an eclectic group of suspects including a lefty academic, Harrigan's producer and Harrigan's sister, who's a member of a religious order. Those new to Haddam will snap up her earlier work based on this captivating literate mystery, which shows how well a classic fair play whodunit can work in a contemporary setting. (May)