Friday, September 9, 2016

QUOTH THE RAVEN by Jane Hadedam

Jane Haddam's Quoth the Raven is the fourth book in her Gregor Demarkian series.

Gregor Demarkian himself notes that this is a different kind of mystery for him.

He witnesses a violent attack with lye. (Usually he comes in after the violent events in the book.)

He is away from his accustomed neighborhood. (Quoth the Raven takes place at Independence College in rural Pennsylvania. Only Bennis and Tibor are with Gregor.)

And one of Demarkian's major clues is Lenoir the Raven who flies over the campus pinpointing where the murderer is doing his especially non-cozy murderous dirty work.

The attack and then the murder take place on Halloween. Independence College goes crazy on Halloween. Everyone dresses in a costume. The students make a huge bonfire and burn King George in effigy. And this year, the college schedules former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian to give a lecture on how the FBI investigates serial murders.

As always, there are many suspects. Each gets his or her sections of the book. We learn about the professor who is a proclaimed witch. We watch two hopelessly in love students. And we follow the nasty intrigues of a small-town college faculty.

In a few ways, Quoth the Raven seems dated. Published in 1991, the book deals with homosexuality in a way that reminds me how much things have changed.

But Quoth the Raven is a typical Gregor Demarkian mystery. I read it for that reason. I like the Demarkian books. I like to follow along as Haddam does her craftsman like thing. She lays out the story. She tells us in detail about each character (often before the murder has occurred). And she has interesting returning characters.

Don't expect these novels to be realistic. Expect them to be a variation of the "reveal it all in the final denouncement" kind of cozy that Agatha Christie made popular.

I still enjoy reading (and rereading) Haddam's Gregor Demarkian books.

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