BOOK REVIEW: HARDSCRABBLE ROAD

Kirkus Reviews
April 1, 2006

After his road trip to New England (The Headmaster's Wife, 2005),
Gregor Demarkian, the Armenian-American Poirot, finds his biggest
case waiting back home in Philadelphia.

Every time right-wing radio agitator Drew Harrigan opens his
mouth on the air, he gives five new strangers motives for killing
him. Now he's sunk to a new low. Arrested by two Philly cops who've
found his car full of prescription drugs with nary a prescription,
he's fingered homeless handyman Sherman Markey as his supplier and
shielded a big asset by deeding a local real-estate parcel to Holy
Innocents Benedictine monastery, where his sister, Mother Constanzia
of the Assumption of Mary, presides. When celebrity-loving Judge
Bruce Williamson sends Drew to rehab, dull-witted, alcoholic Markey
becomes the center of a media firestorm and takes Drew's place as
the city's most likely murder victim. It would make sense if Markey
were killed by Drew's lawyers, who'd prefer to crucify him without
dealing with his sworn testimony; or by Markey's own legal team at
the Justice Project, who'd find him easier to transform into a martyr
in his absence; or by UPenn professors Jig Tyler or Alison Standish,
for reasons of their own. But things develop along quite different
lines for Gregor, who's pulled into a case that's complex mainly
because the people involved are so complicated.

Haddam outdoes herself with a broad canvas that recalls John Gregory
Dunne's Nothing Lost and the best of P.D. James.

Publication Date: 5/15/2006 0:00:00 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur
Stage: Adult Star: 1 ISBN: 0-312-35373-1 price: $24.95 Author:
Haddam, Jane