cover image A Festival of Deaths

A Festival of Deaths

Jane Haddam. Crimeline, $5.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-553-56085-5

Since Lotte Goldman's TV show specializes in exploring guests' sexual secrets, its employees take the unusual in stride-but even they are caught off guard when the program's all-around boss, DeAnna Kroll, discovers the body of talent coordinator Maria Gonzalez in a storeroom with her face beaten in. Lotte and her crew are scheduled to hit the road for Philadelphia, where one of her first interviews is to be with ex-FBI agent Gregor Demarkian (most recently featured in Dear Old Dead) and a convicted serial killer. Before the show can begin, high-pitched screams lead Gregor to a second victim, whose face has also been destroyed. Being right on the scene, how can Gregor not help his friend, Philadelphia police detective John Jackman, close in on the killer? The story's Hanukkah connection remains peripheral until a contrived link between the killer and some ``defective'' dreidels is revealed. The slight, rather far-fetched puzzle is overwhelmed by the two richly populated communities (show staffers and Gregor's cutely colorful Armenian-American neighbors). But folks who read the series precisely for those characters will find this entry festive enough. (Dec.)