cover image Act of Darkness

Act of Darkness

Jane Haddam. Crimeline, $4.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29086-8

This agreeable puzzle in the Agatha Christie mold is set in the corrupt realm of modern politics. Haddam ( Precious Blood ) isolates a group of manipulative, influential characters--at least one of whom is a murderer--at a Long Island Sound estate for a seminar about a much-publicized p. 143 proposed bill to benefit children with Down's syndrome. Among the power-mongers in attendance are doltish presidential candidate Stephen Whistler Fox, who has been having strange blackouts at fundraisers; his meek wife, Janet, grieving for a deceased child with Down's; his possessive, witchy mistress, Patchen Rawls; his shifty right-hand man, Dan Chester; and a specialist in the treatment of retarded children, Dr. Kevin Debrett. Debrett is found dead in his guest room with nary a wound nor a sign of struggle, and a second victim is soon to follow. Alert ex-FBI man Gregor Demarkian examines both crimes and drops hints about the murderer(s) in their midst. Juicy gossip abounds, tension builds and all present are suitably suspect as Demarkian expertly wraps up loose ends in this entertaining, satisfying mystery. (July)