cover image Flowering Judas: A Gregor Demarkian Novel%E2%80%A9

Flowering Judas: A Gregor Demarkian Novel%E2%80%A9

Jane Haddam. Minotaur, $25.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-312-64433-8

Rather than present a variety of characters with reason to want the eventual murder victim dead as she's done in recent books in this series, Edgar-finalist Haddam immediately presents the reader with a corpse in her stellar 26th mystery featuring PI Gregor Demarkian (after 2010's Wanting Sheila Dead). The body of Chester Morton, a long-missing college student, turns up in Mattatuck, N.Y., hanging from a billboard bearing his image and a request for information, part of his mother's frantic attempt to learn his fate. Called in to consult by the local police chief, Demarkian soon spots some anomalies that suggest that Morton didn't die where he was found. The discovery nearby of a backpack containing an infant's skeleton only adds to the puzzle. While the plot itself isn't one of Haddam's twistiest, the re-creation of the fishbowl that is smalltown life is pitch-perfect and shaded by a chilling glimpse of human darkness. (Aug.)