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Hardscrabble Road by Jane Haddam

Hardscrabble Road (2006)

by Jane Haddam

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Gregor encounters nuns and homeless men ( )
  198therese | Mar 4, 2015 |
No. 21 in the Gregor Demarkian series.

One of the very good aspects of this series—one that allows Haddam to keep it interesting despite very formulaic plots—is that she uses the genre to explore different social themes with each book. She does have recurring ones: religion, which she treats with great sympathy; the very rich, which she does not; and community. While her writing is not brilliant thematically, it is usually very good, adding interest and complexity to her stories.

Unfortunately, this time the “theme”—contemporary politics—gets in the way. Hadddam has a tendency to be heavy handed many times in her exposition of a point of view, and with this book, it really detracts from the story. I’ve visited her Web site, and it does appear that she is a Libertarian, which is fine; I personally lean very strongly towards that stance myself. BUT Haddam pounds away and pounds away at what she views, through her characters, as the problem with contemporary politics, using even Father Tibor Kasparian as a mouthpiece; while I might agree with a good part of her analysis, the exposition finally becomes boring.

The plot and its development are standard Haddam for this series. She uses the homeless situation as a matrix for her plot and also for her exposition of her political views. She also touches on the preferential treatment given celebrities in the justice system. She does both very, very well, and that’s what kept me reading through too many pages of “libertarianism vs authoritarianism” ranting.

Not her best but still a good read for fans of the series. ( )
  Joycepa | Apr 19, 2008 |
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Credible characters and an intriguing plot laced with both humor and political commentary lift Haddam's outstanding 21st Gregor Demarkian novel to feature the retired FBI agent known as the Armenian-American Hercule Poirot (after 2005's The Headmaster's Wife). Like Agatha Christie or P.D. James, Haddam uses multiple perspectives to portray her central character—Drew Harrigan, a rabid right-wing Philadelphia radio host who will remind many of Rush Limbaugh. Harrigan has been arrested on drug charges, and his conviction would complicate many lives. His alleged supplier, an alcoholic homeless man named Sherman, is also in big trouble. After Sherman turns up apparently poisoned, Demarkian joins the police and DA in investigating an eclectic group of suspects including a lefty academic, Harrigan's producer and Harrigan's sister, who's a member of a religious order. Those new to Haddam will snap up her earlier work based on this captivating literate mystery, which shows how well a classic fair play whodunit can work in a contemporary setting.
  jlcampbell05 | Nov 11, 2006 |
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There was no thermometer outside the door of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery, but Sister Maria Beata of the Incarnation didn't need one to tell her that the temperature was well below zero and getting worse.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312989121, Mass Market Paperback)

When Philadelphia's right-wing-ranting radio host Drew Harrigan is arrested for possession of illegal pain killers, he implicates a homeless man, Sherman Markey, in the drug buys, and is soon checked into a locked rehabilitation facility.  
While Harrigan is away, beyond the reach of the media and the court, Markey sues him for libel and slander. With the help of a legal advocacy group, Markey is due to have his day in court…until he disappears into the city streets. 

The nuns at the shelter haven't seen him. The civil lawyers can't find him. Now it's time for retired FBI agent Gregor Demarkian to step into the case--one that will lead Demarkian down a slippery slope of dark deeds and chilling revelation…with a killer lying in wait for anyone who dares to cross his path.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"When local Philadelphia radio host Drew Harrigan, known for his incendiary right-wing tirades, is arrested for illegal possession of prescription drugs, he implicates a homeless man in the drug buys and disappears into a locked rehabilitation facility. While Harrigan is away, beyond the reach of the media and the court, the homeless man so implicated, Sherman Markey, first sues Harrigan for defamation and false accusation and then he himself disappears. With Markey's court date coming up, a member for a legal advocacy group representing him approaches Gregor Demarkian for help in locating him." "Demarkian, a retired FBI agent, thinking it will be a simple matter of making a few phone calls, soon finds himself in the midst of a complex maze of motives and actors. Almost as many people have reason for wanting Markey to disappear as do those who want him found. Among those are the Reverend Mother of a local Benedictine monastery, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and noted leftist academic, the lawyer representing Harrigan and an organization for the homeless, among others. When a body wearing clothes matching the description of those of the missing Sherman Markey is found, Demarkian realizes that someone is out to silence Markey - and may have already succeeded - and now he has to unravel a most complicated puzzle before the killer strikes again."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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