cover image Living Witness: A Gregor Demarkian Novel

Living Witness: A Gregor Demarkian Novel

Jane Haddam, . . Minotaur, $25.95 (391pp) ISBN 978-0-312-38086-1

Edgar-finalist Haddam's excellent 24th Gregor Demarkian novel (after 2008's Cheating at Solitaire ) takes a nuanced look at the debate over teaching evolution in public schools. Demarkian, who's about to marry his longtime significant other, Bennis Hannaford, gains a welcome distraction from the last-minute preparations. In Snow Hill, Pa., someone bludgeons 91-year-old Ann-Victoria Hadley, leaving her in a coma. The detective soon learns that Hadley, a recent addition to the school board, was the focus of a heated local controversy for her role in a lawsuit aimed at preventing intelligent design from being taught at the town's schools. While the victim remains unconscious, her assailant strikes again, killing two women who were also plaintiffs in the civil action. Haddam makes characters on both sides of the issue sympathetic, explores the inner life of her detective hero without cluttering up the plot—and offers an ingenious fair-play puzzle. (Apr.)