cover image The Headmaster's Wife: A Gregor Demarkian Novel

The Headmaster's Wife: A Gregor Demarkian Novel

Jane Haddam. Minotaur Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-5-559-09870-8

Campus politics and intrigue intermingle with sex, suicide and possibly murder in Haddam's searing 20th Gregor Demarkian mystery, set at ""progressive"" Windsor Academy, a suburban Boston boarding school. Alice Makepeace, the ineffectual headmaster's strong-willed wife, has been having affairs with students for years until her most recent conquest, 16-year-old Michael Feyre, is found hanging in his dorm room by his well-connected roommate, Mark DeAvecca. Drugs abound, dress codes are passé and students call teachers by their first names at the troubled school, which is engulfed in media chaos after Mark nearly dies from arsenic poisoning and a caffeine overdose. Familiar character types on the faculty, including hardcore feminists, closet gays and liberal preppies, hide in their dormitory apartments while Mark's mother, CNN ""talking head"" Liz Toliver, leads an exposé of Windsor's endemic corruption and hypocrisy. Ex-FBI man Demarkian conducts a low-key investigation even while distracted by problems in his romantic life back in Philadelphia. He develops an appealingly close, trusting relationship with Mark that transcends the normal problems of adolescence in this compelling portrait of a closed society rife with sleaze under its veneer of respectability and prestige. ""(Apr. 18)""

FYI: ""Haddam has been a finalist for both Edgar and Anthony awards."" .