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Flowering Judas: A Gregor Demarkian Novel    by Jane Haddam order for
Flowering Judas
by Jane Haddam
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Flowering Judas is the first (but by no means the last) mystery I have read in Jane Haddam's long-running series starring former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian, the 'man who started the Behavioral Sciences Unit'. Though I enjoyed the puzzle, I appreciated the protagonist's interactions with fellow members of his Armenian neighborhood in Philadelphia even more.

In the apartment he shares with his second wife, Bennis, Gregor is stumbling over carpet and tile samples - they've bought a new house on Cavanaugh Street that Bennis is having renovated. He and Bennis worry about old George who 'looks like kindergarten paste', and after they head to the Ararat for breakfast, George collapses and is hospitalized.

Before that happened, Gregor had accepted an assignment, to consult on a recent death in Mattatuck, New York. The local authorities believe it to have been suicide, but want Gregor's confirmation. The corpse of Chester Morton, who went missing twelve years before, has been found hanging from the billboard, on which was posted a sign asking if anyone had seen him - his mother Charlene had relentlessly posted these since he disappeared.

Where had Chester been all this time and how did he die? Though distracted by George's frailty, Gregor steadily works to make sense of this case, as well as a new one - a baby's skull found at a construction site. Plenty of townsfolk know more than they're admitting. There's the police officer who's involved with Chester's old girlfriend Darvelle, not to mention the Mayor herself.

In Flowering Judas, Jane Haddam gives readers a well-plotted, clever mystery with a surprising villain, unveiled by her engaging investigator. Along the way, she reveals her own views of various aspects of modern society. If you enjoy intelligent mysteries, you need look no further than this series.

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