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Living Witness: A Gregor Demarkian Novel (Gregor Demarkian #24)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  286 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
In her 91 years, Ann-Victoria Hadley has often been the most hated person in Snow Hill, Pennsylvania. But now, it's worse than ever. After a new school board inserted "intelligent design" into the curriculum, they were sued by a coalition including Hadley, the one member of the board who wouldn't go along with the rest. With the trial about to start and the town a national ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Minotaur Books
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Oct 19, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Haddam's stories featuring Gregor Demarkian add to their plots serious political and cultural issues. Living Witness brings out different opinions on the "right" road relative to these topics. Living Witness focuses on religion, and religion in a small and insular town having to face change from all sides. What is that saying about never discuss politics or religion if you don't want the conversation to tank? Oh Well....

No matter what the topic each person is entitled to their own viewpoint
Feb 28, 2017 Lbaker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-male
I've not gotten into this book too far, and I'm worried that so far the town seems too polarized. The book begins with a woman in her 90's and everyone hates her - is there no one that admires her, respects her, loves her?
The other characterization that I don't like was the same in a previous Jane Haddam book - why are all characters that are religious also nuts? You can be a religious person without being a fanatic, yet when these books are set in small towns, everyone seems fanatical.
I sure h
May 23, 2009 Caitlin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I like Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian series, although it's slightly different than what I typically read in the mystery/thriller genre. I tend more towards cop books & forenisc books with the occasional political or legal thriller thrown in for good measure. Haddam's books are more closely related to Miss Marple - no, they're not British nor are they typically set in a small town, but in their own way they nicely fit the small village murder model. At least in my mind.

These books always mak
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’
Laura Zlogar
I like the protagonist Gregor Demarkian a good deal. He's an interesting former FBI agent who came up from his blue collar Philadelphia Armenian roots to become a police consultant called in by local police departments to help on difficult cases. The setting of the book is interesting--Appalachian Pennsylvania--and the context one I haven't seen in a police procedural: a crime centered on evolution and intelligent design and a local school board. However, Haddam's dialogue at times is repetitiou ...more
Sep 05, 2009 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read close to half this book thinking it would get better, but I finally gave up. The characters in this book don't ring true. It is hard to believe that even stupid people in a small town who follow a fundamentalist religion would think much about what college a woman in her 90's attended and obsess on how "she thinks she'd better than us." Even if a latter day Scopes Trial is the biggest news in town, people think and talk about other things. In my experience very religious people in small t ...more
Sep 09, 2012 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Snow Hill is the kind of town where a member of the School Board can follow someone down the street yelling, "You're going to Hell!" What's more, still be considered a good Christian. So when the person who was being yelled at gets home to her supposedly-empty house and is battered into a coma, the lines are drawn. On one side are the Fundamentalists, and on the other side are the "atheists," meaning any non-Fundamentalist. There are a few nice people in the town, and because of them - and to es ...more
When Annie-Vic Hadley, the 90 + member of the Snow Hill, PA school board, is attacked and left for dead, the local police chief, also on the school board, is afraid that he and the other members who opposed Annie-Vic on the creationism-evolution controversy will be suspects. He gets Gregor Demarkian to help--Demarkian, who is to be married in a few weeks, is glad to flee the wedding preparations. Both sides in the controversy are sure that the other is at fault. Only a few people, like a fundame ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Susanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was the first book I read by this author, and I very much respect her for choosing such an interesting setting for a mystery. The plot revolves around an attempted murder of an iconoclastic older woman who lives in a rural American community dominated by born-again Christians who are deeply divided about whether to include creationism/scientific design in the local high school curricula. Haddam provides a very nuanced portrayal of the different faith issues involved. I have since read one o ...more
Mar 04, 2012 Birdeena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The various viewpoints on evolution and of religion in schools seemed to be realistic. I think I really liked Nick Frapp's veiws the best, probably because I believe you need to see all sides, whether it is religion or evolution, for the truth of the subject to become evident to you. Each person will have their own truth, but it would be based on a variety of information and views on the subject. I disliked the characters of Henry Wackford (atheist), and Alice McGruffie (Fundamentalist)...not so ...more
Larry Zieminski
This was the fist (and only) book of Jane Haddam's that I've read. I generally don't jump into the middle of a series, but the subject matter (teaching of evolution vs. creationism) interested me so I read it. Unfortunately I didn't get much from the book. The characters seem to trot out the same tired arguments we hear on the subjects, without adding anything new to the equation. The mystery itself was interesting, but felt like it was wrapped up almost as an afterthought. I don't expect to con ...more
May 24, 2009 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Jane Haddam a lot, mainly because of her series characters, Gregor Demarkian and Bennis Hannaford. This one is a good mystery with an interesting twist or two at the end, and with many long discussions of the evolution/intelligent design debate in the middle. She is pretty fair in presenting the different sides - some of the evolutionists are jerks, some are reasonable and earnest people. And there are both varieties among the Christians as well. In the end, though, there was a bit more i ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Kyrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I love Haddam's stories! This one is about a 91 year old woman who sure doesn't act 91 and the town she's lived in all her life. She's suing the school board over "Intelligent Design" and she's attacked. There's a whole lot more going on - a very conservative religious school, lots of small town politics, and a huge surprise ending. I really enjoy how Gregor Demarkian's mind works as he figures things out. Twisted through all this info are tales of Gregor and Bennis' wedding plans.
Jan 29, 2011 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I have liked this series for a long time, but the last two have been wordy - lots of exposition and author philosophy coming through. It makes for slow going. This book, set in a small town in Pennsylvania and centering around a controversy about teaching evolution in the local school, picked up as it went along. I will definitely read more of Jane Haddam's books - she's a good writer - but I wouldnn't mind reading a new series.
Gregor Demarkian is only to happy to help determine who viciously beat a 91 yr old school board member in Snow Hill, Pa. The ladies on Cavanaugh Street or all busy helping Bennis plan there up coming wedding and Gregor is in the way! Of course the plot is thick with an ongoing fight over Intelligent Design vs the teaching of evolution in the Snow Hill HS so there are lots of suspects and red herrings. Another erudite outing by the former FBI agent turned PI.
Having heard lots good about this series, I wanted to like this book. At first, the premise sounded interesting. A murder amidst the heated debate between ardent evolutionists and those favoring a theory of "intelligent design" had many possiblities, howvever the author descended into numerous extremist rants and presented obnoxious characatures on both sides. Finding nothing and no one worthy, I just gave it up.
Jan 23, 2011 Cheryl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed that Haddam used this book for a rant against creationism and for the scientific acceptance of evolution. The book was presented as a mystery but the mystery was so thin as to be nonexistent only serving as the backdrop for the author to harangue the reader. My views on the evolution/creationism debate aside, I felt the book was misrepresented. Since this was the frst book I have read by Haddam, I must admit I am a little reluctant to read another.
Jun 06, 2010 Lizzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Great mystery! The theme was creation vs evolution. I think both sides of the parties were overly done as being highly fanatical. Most people I know in each category don't fit those stereotypes. I also had a hard time figuring out the geography of Pa, being I know it pretty well! lol. But those things did not detract from a good mystery.
Jun 06, 2009 Jeannen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is the most recent of the many books in the Gregor Demarkian series. There are elements of the story -- the parts about Demarkian's personal life -- that are probably best appreciated if you've been following the series over the years, but the core story is a good one, and I did not see the solution to the mystery coming at all.
Jun 03, 2010 Irene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-in-2010
Away for weekend, finished my other book, so started on what my husband had just finished. He's read many of the Gregor Demarkian books. So far it's ok but a bit slow-moving.
Moved faster once I had the time to read several chapters continuously. Not destined to become a favorite series, but will probably seek out others in this set.
Cynthia Sillitoe
Aug 24, 2011 Cynthia Sillitoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, this book is one I read when I need characters who annoy me. Basically, it's a murder mystery in a small town arguing over Evolution. Characters on both sides are stereotypical, totally black and white, and yet when I'm in a certain mood, I just love it. And it's given me some great lines like: "She's nothing but a secular humanist." Throw that into a conversation someday...
Jun 21, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gregor Demarkian investigates the attempted murder of a small-town school board member while the town is fighting about evolution-is-a-theory textbook stickers. First time I've felt like Haddam's own opinion on a topic might be different from her detective's, and as usual a nice mix of mystery & political philosophy.
Living Witness is a take on the evolution vs. creationism controversy.
Jane Haddam creates rich characters and plots full of twists, but this book is not as satisfying as some of her previous book, like Cheating at Solitaire.
Bennis and Gregor finally get married, but there weren't enough details of the wedding to make me happy.
Aug 26, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small Penn town is battling over teaching evolution vs Intelligent Design. The conflict is exacerbated by long time hatred between the "hill people" who feel the "town people" have always looked down on them and considered them stupid. When first a 90 year old woman is attacked and left in a coma and then 2 more women are killed, everything gets much more serious than the upcoming lawsuit.
Apr 27, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jane Hadddam is one of my very favorite mystery authors. It is amazing to me that this book is so good when it is around the 25th book in the series. In fact, the books keep getting better, the later ones are better than the early ones. I think of these as somewhat "intellectual mysteries."
Jan 24, 2010 Eve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, fiction-library
I really like this series but while this was a good addition to the series it was much harder for me to engage in and I think I completed it more because I like the series than I was into the mystery.
LInda L
Sep 22, 2009 LInda L rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first Jane Haddam book, as well as the character Gregor Demarkian. I have to say, I just loved this book. Gregor is so funny and so smart, the townspeople were SO ignorant and obnoxious, the story was great. Read this.
Oct 05, 2011 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the talk about Creationism, secular humanism, who is and is not a Christian, and various characters' opinions on all of the above gave me a headache throughout the book. Aside from that the plot was pretty good.
Nov 01, 2009 Eva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three stars for being easy to read and a decent mystery. I did not like the constant creationism/evolution banter. It was boring and painted the characters as very one-sided and simplistic. A fine light read for those who enjoy mysteries.
Catherine Woodman
Maybe it is just me but I think Demarkian has changed over time. He has less intensity, although this book has a nicely convoluted plot that spends a good amount of time getting to the end in a pleasant way.
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Aka Orania Papazoglou

Jane Haddam (b. 1951) is an American author of mysteries. Born Orania Papazoglou, she worked as a college professor and magazine editor before publishing her Edgar Award–nominated first novel, Sweet, Savage Death, in 1984. This mystery introduced Patience McKenna, a sleuthing scribe who would go on to appear in four more books, including Wicked, Loving Murder (1985) and Rich,
More about Jane Haddam...

Other Books in the Series

Gregor Demarkian (1 - 10 of 29 books)
  • Not a Creature was Stirring (Gregor Demarkian, #1)
  • Precious Blood (Gregor Demarkian, #2)
  • Act of Darkness (Gregor Demarkian, #3)
  • Quoth the Raven (Gregor Demarkian, #4)
  • A Great Day for the Deadly (Gregor Demarkian, #5)
  • Feast of Murder (Gregor Demarkian, #6)
  • A Stillness in Bethlehem (Gregor Demarkian, #7)
  • Murder Superior (Gregor Demarkian, #8)
  • Dear Old Dead (Gregor Demarkian, #9)
  • Festival of Deaths (Gregor Demarkian, #10)

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