Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #50: Blood in the Water by Jane Haddam
You know that co-worker friend who’s really cool, and you think you could be outside-of-work friends instead of just friends-at-work? And then you start hanging out outside of work and you realize that too much of this person is not a good thing, and small doses is best? I think I may have hit my lifetime dose of Gregor Demarkian novels. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of them, or at least all but one or two. I used to really enjoy them – I liked the stories, and Gregor, and the happenings on Cavanaugh Street, and the way Jane Haddam gives such detailed background into what other authors would consider minor characters. This time, I found myself sighing a little in exasperation at some of Gregor’s quirks, and felt a little weighed down by all the minor-character details – how do I know what’s important? Is that a clue, or a character-building expository blip?
This time, Gregor is hired by a snooty gated community outside Philadelphia. Two bodies were found in the poolhouse on the property, although one is too badly burned to be recognized. They are assumed to be Martha Heydrich and her young lover Michael, and Martha’s husband Arthur is promptly arrested. When the local police run DNA on the burned body, it comes back male, so Arthur is released, and the authorities are flummoxed. Enter famous retired-FBI agent turned detective Gregor Demarkian. He shuffles around the community, observing behavior and imploring the local cops to think – the answers, he says, are always right there. If I were the local cop, I think Gregor would’ve been the third body. He gets a little bit schoolteacher-condescending with them. Not that schoolteachers are all condescending, but you know what I mean. That “Everything you need to know is right in front of you. You just have to put it together” nonsense. Why not just say “That guy did it. Arrest him whilst I tell you how and why”?
So I’m not sure if this book is not as good as previous books, or if I’ve just read too many and am getting tired of them. It was an audio book, so maybe listening to it illustrated the more annoying aspects more than reading it would have. If you’re a Gregor Demarkian fan, this hits all the usual notes, and the mystery itself is appropriately mysterious. However, I think I’ll take a nice long break before I read another one.