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True Believers by Jane Haddam

True Believers (edition 2002)

by Jane Haddam (Author)

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1161104,032 (3.71)2
Title:True Believers
Authors:Jane Haddam (Author)
Info:New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:fiction, female author, american, america, pennsylvania, philadelphia, mystery, male detective, private investigator, gregor demarkian, series-17th, st. martin's press, macmillan, bookshelf32

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True Believers by Jane Haddam



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#17 in the Gregor Demarkian series.

Religion is inescapable in the Demarkian series, if only because Gregor’s closest friend is Father Tibor Kasparian, pastor of Holy Trinity Armenian Christian Church. Quite a few books feature an order of Roman Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Divine Grace; they are some of the best in the series. In Baptism in Blood, Haddam takes a fairly positive look at Southern fundamentalist Christian in a small town; there is a lesbian community that more or less abrades the sensitivities of the fundamentalists, but there is no actual hostile action.

True Believers presents an extreme of fundamentalist Christianity, those who actively hate homosexuals. I use the word “hate” deliberately. It’s on thing to disagree with someone’s belief system; it is quite another to disagree violently. Rather than in a small southern town, the confrontation between an Episcopal congregation, St. Stephen’s, of gay men and a group of fundamentalists whose pastor actively pursues and harasses the gay congregation takes place in Philadelphia. In a delightful coincidence, St. Stephen’s is located directly across the street from St. Anselm’s, whose parochial schools is run by none other than—you guessed it—the Sisters of Divine Grace; Sister Mary Scholastica, whom fans of the series have met before, is the principal. Also making an appearance is the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia who looks as if he’s modeled at least partly on the real life Archbishop of Boston, Sean Cardinal O’Malley: both are Franciscans, both were sent in to clean up the mess due to the pedophilia scandal, both are ascetics. Haddam portrays the fictional Archbishop in a very intriguing way—generally and heartily disliked by officaldom (including Demarkian), but in private, very introspective and far more “human” and compassionate than his public face would suggest. Haddam lives in Connecticut. It’s always tempting to speculate…..

Anyway, back to the book itself. As always, the Sisters of Divine Grace lend a very special air to any Demarkian book, particularly since members of the order have a distressing habit of being murdered! No exception here, although we have a very catholic (sorry) spectrum of victims.

One of the best parts of this book is the portrayal of the fundamentalist congregation and its obsessed pastor, Ray Phipps. It is neither pleasant nor in any way complimentary. The group is portrayed as people who have little education, not terribly intelligent, easily led, and prone to violence. Phipps plays on all of those characteristics while holding them—and the people--in contempt. In one section of the book, he basically incites a riot, and makes certain that he is in no way implicated.

One of the most outstanding segments involves a hilarious confrontation between the Cardinal Archbishop and the pastor of St. Stephens with Phipps. It’s worth the price of the book.

Haddam’s Demarkian series started out strong and then for a few novels was just mostly ok—still worth reading but not up to the quality of her earlier books. With this book and Skeleton Key, she comes roaring back with the same old formula she’s always used in her book structures, but fine writing and good plotting. Her husband died of cancer not that long ago, and it is easy to imagine that the situation impacted her writing. But she’s back stronger than ever, more power to her, and all her fans have to be delighted. ( )
1 vote Joycepa | Mar 11, 2008 |
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To Karin Slaughter, in honor of the fact that she managed to make me crazy every single day for three straight years
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It was still full dark when Marty Kelly left home, so dark that there were halos around all the streetlights, as if the lights had metamorphosed into miniature blue moons.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312982860, Mass Market Paperback)

There's hell to pay in Philadelphia when Marty Kelly commits suicide over his wife's body in the sacristy of St. Anselm's Church. Everyone assumes that Bernadette Kelly, a diabetic, died of natural causes--until the autopsy reveals death by arsenic. But one of the nuns a St. Anselm's, certain of Marty innocence, recruits retired director of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit Gregor Demarkian to investigate for the new Cardinal Archbishop. His Eminence, dispatched to Philadelphia to clean up a scandal, expects Demarkian to act with discretion. But when a third death by arsenic is revealed in the neighboring Episcopal Church, not even God's grace can help the priest who becomes a prime suspect--and the murderer's next victim. Moving among three combustible parishes--Catholic, Episcopalian, and rabble-rousing fundmentalist--Demarkian must negotiate his way through holy hell to find the diabolically clever killer. Only then may God's will--and a homicidal reign of terror--be done...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Early One Morning at St. Anselm's Church in Philadelphia, a parishioner sneaks the body of his wife into the sacristy and then commits suicide. The husband, known to be devoted to his wife, is presumed to have killed himself out of grief. His wife, a severe diabetic, is assumed to have died of natural causes - until the coroner discovers that she actually died of arsenic poisoning. The police close the murder case, believing that the husband was clearly responsible, but one of the nuns at St. Anselm's doesn't accept the prevailing wisdom. Sure that the husband is innocent, she asks Gregor Demarkian, the retired head of the FBI's Behaviorial Science Unit, to investigate.". "With tensions mounting among the city's religious groups, agitated by outside extremists, Demarkian's investigation is made difficult by the environment. Bennis Hannaford, an acclaimed author and Demarkian's lover, is undergoing a crisis of her own while the many and various denizens of Cavanaugh Street - their Armenian-American neighborhood - are involved in various uproars themselves. But at the base of everything is a mysteriously murdered young woman and the most perplexing case yet for Gregor Demarkian."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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