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Cover image for Living witness : a Gregor Demarkian novel
Living witness : a Gregor Demarkian novel
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2009.
Physical Description:
673 pages ; 23 cm.
After the school board inserted "Intelligent Design" into the curriculum, they were sued by a coalition including 91-year-old Anne Victoria Hadley, the most hated woman in town. With the trial about to start and national media gathering, Anne Victoria is found clubbed to death. Brought in by the local police chief, former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian must take on a small town with a short fuse, about to blow sky high.


Call Number
LP Haddam Gregor Demarkian v.24

On Order

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Edgar-finalist Haddam's excellent 24th Gregor Demarkian novel (after 2008's Cheating at Solitaire) takes a nuanced look at the debate over teaching evolution in public schools. Demarkian, who's about to marry his longtime significant other, Bennis Hannaford, gains a welcome distraction from the last-minute preparations. In Snow Hill, Pa., someone bludgeons 91-year-old Ann-Victoria Hadley, leaving her in a coma. The detective soon learns that Hadley, a recent addition to the school board, was the focus of a heated local controversy for her role in a lawsuit aimed at preventing intelligent design from being taught at the town's schools. While the victim remains unconscious, her assailant strikes again, killing two women who were also plaintiffs in the civil action. Haddam makes characters on both sides of the issue sympathetic, explores the inner life of her detective hero without cluttering up the plot-and offers an ingenious fair-play puzzle. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Evolution: fact, opinion or motive for murder? Annie-Victoria Hadley, the only member of the Snow Hill school board joining former chairman Henry Wackford in a lawsuit denying advocates of Intelligent Design their say, is clobbered with something blunt, like a baseball bat. As she hovers between life and death, it's assumed that vehement creationists had a go at her. Bypassing the publicity-hungry Pennsylvania State Police, Gary Albright, the Snow Hill Police Chief, calls in ex-FBI authority Gregor Demarkian, the Armenian-American Poirot, who quickly learns that just about everyone in town was within batting range of Annie-Vic's house when she was coshed. Lining up for Intelligent Design are current board chair Franklin Hale, board member Alice McGuffie, Alice's bully of a daughter and Chief Albright. The evolutionists include Miss Marbledale, the schoolteacher, and Judy Cornish and her friend Shelley Niederman, newcomers comfortably settled in the posh new development outside Snow Hill until they're also dispatched, presumably by an unappeased creationist. Straddling the debate is Rev. Nick Frapp, who insists that he's neutral since his flock's children attend his academy, not the public school. But the more Gregor learns of the town's movements and prejudices, the more certain he is that death has come from another direction. Haddam (Cheating at Solitaire, 2008, etc.), who usually has more on her mind than mere murder, defeats the anti-scientists with fact as well as tact. If another "monkey trial" comes up, the evolutionists should ask her to write their brief. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The Gregor Demarkian series, nearing the 25-volume mark, shows no signs of slowing down. How the author consistently manages to use the traditional mystery format to tackle some of contemporary society's most volatile issues is itself something of a mystery, but it's undeniably true that Haddam does what so many other writers fail to do: tell a story that challenges its readers to consider subjects of great social, political, and ethical importance. Here, a 91-year-old woman is beaten nearly to death. Anne Victoria Hadley is part of a group of small-town citizens who are suing the school board for adding intelligent design (that is, creationism) to the school curriculum. The local police chief, who is the first to admit he's one of the prime suspects, asks Demarkian, the former FBI agent, to lead the investigation. The author offers her typically razor-sharp mystery concerning a highly contentious issue, but also does so without taking sides, treating all of her characters, from devout Christians to agnostics (and all points in between), with respect and understanding. Haddam is a fine writer, exhibiting skills rarely glimpsed in the mystery genre. The Demarkian series deserves a much wider audience.--Pitt, David Copyright 2009 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Evolution and intelligent design go head to head in Haddam's 24th Demarkian crime novel. The ex-FBI agent helps a local police chief in a small Pennsylvania town investigate the murder of an elderly woman who sued the school board for incorporating intelligent design into the curriculum. Repetition and an overly long telling make this one for devoted series fans only. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.