LJ's Reviews > Living Witness

Living Witness by Jane Haddam
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May 04, 2010

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bookshelves: contemporary_post_1945, licensed_investigator, mystery, mysterybookclub, pennsylvania
Read in April, 2010

First Sentence: If Ann-Victoria Hadley had been forced to tell the truth—and she never had to be forced; she always told the truth—she would have to admit this was not the first time she had been the most hated person in Snow Hill, Pennsylvania.

An attack on elderly, yet indomitable, Ann-Victoria Hadley summons ex-FBI agent Gregor Demarkian from Philadelphia to the small town of Snow Hill, PA. Ms. Hadley, now in a coma, was part of a law suit against bringing “intelligent design” into the school’s curriculum. Because the chief of police is a Fundamentalist Christian, he doesn’t feel it would be right to lead the investigation. A second attack results in murder and increasing tension across the various factions in the town.

Any book which deals with differing religious views can be both interesting to read and challenging to review. Ms. Haddam does include characters who fall within several camps; evangelicals, fundamentalists, Christians, secular humanists and atheists. She also raises issues of snobbery, peer pressure, ignorance and education. I appreciated reading Ms. Haddam’s views on each of these topics and felt she did a very good job integrating them into the plot For the most part, they were presented without blatant bias against the beliefs but rather against the individual character.

This was the first Haddam book I’ve read but was pleased to find, as far as knowing the primary characters, it didn’t matter. Enough back story was provided for Demarkian and his fiancée that I was very comfortable and didn’t feel anything was missing. As to the other characters, I should like to have seen a better balance.

Perhaps, however, it was only that those who are extreme in their views seem to predominate whatever environment they are in. However, there were some secondary characters I found fascinating but about whom I was left wanting to know more. I fault the author’s desire to focus on the attitudes and philosophies rather than the characters.

For all that, the basics of the plot were very good. There was a clever diversion and an unexpected motive. I was also surprised when I realized that, for the volume of text, the story encompassed only three days. However, there were times one lost the focus of the story for the viewpoints. I felt this was a shame as it diminished what could have been a very good book with stronger editing.

While I enjoyed the book, it didn’t make me want to seek out others in the series.

LIVING WITNESS (Unl. Invest-Gregor Demarkian-Pennsylvania-Cont) – G+
Haddam, Jane – 24th in series
Minotaur Books, ©2009, US Paperback – ISBN: 9780312372262

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