Not a Creature Was Stirring (Gregor Demarkian #1), by Jane Haddam

Recently added to your library’s ebook collection, this is the first title in Haddam’s long-running police procedural series featuring Gregor Demarkian, “the Armenian-American Hercule Poirot.” Demarkian, creator of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Department, is just coming out of mourning after the death of his wife. It’s the Christmas season, his first back in his old neighborhood of Cavanaugh Street, Armenian enclave in Philadelphia where he grew up. Although Cavanaugh Street has changed, many of his childhood friends and neighbors remain, with all their quirks.

As a favor to Father Tibor, priest at the local Armenian church, Demarkian accepts an invitation to Engine House, the Main Line mansion of Robert Hannaford, wealthy heir to a Philadelphia railroad fortune. When he arrives, he meets the Hannaford children and Robert Hannaford’s dying wife, but not Robert Hannaford himself, who has been bludgeoned to death in his library. More deaths follow between Christmas and New Year’s, before Demarkian and local police chief John Henry Newman Jackman find the solution and the killer. Motives abound among the Hannaford children, largely having to do with money, with the notable exception of Bennis Hannaford, who has made her own fortune as an author of a very popular fantasy series.

With the 29th book in the series just out, this has been Haddam’s most popular, and most durable, work. The main characters, Demarkian and Bennis Hannaford, are well drawn and likable, even though they can be irritating at times. Cavanaugh Street is an unusual but fascinating setting, with lots of recurring characters bringing in subplots that mesh well with the main story line. If you enjoy police procedurals, or books with ethnic characters, you’re sure to enjoy Not a Creature Was Stirring and the entire Gregor Demarkian series.

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