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Twelve years ago, Chester Morton disappeared from his hometown in New York, leaving no trace and never to be heard from again. For the past twelve years, his mother has kept the search for her son alive by hounding every law enforcement agency she can get to listen. Now, Chester's body is finally found - hanging from the very billboard that has been advertising his disappearance. Chester's corpse, however, is recent. Under pressure and with limited resources, the local police turn to Gregor Demarkian - a former FBI agent and a frequent consultant on such cases - to try and unravel the truth buried within this very complex and tragic case and find out once and for all what really happened all those years ago.
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Story of a Town as Much as a Crime
I'm a long time fan of Jane Haddam's mysteries going back to her Orania Papazoglou mysteries featuring romance/true crime writer Patience McKenna. Patience was a lot like Bennis Hannaford, a fantasy writer, whose relationship with Gregor Demarkian, a retired FBI agent fictionally credited with creating the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI, is background to this addition to the series. Cavanaugh Street, the community where Demarkian and his neighbors and friends live in Philadelphia is also background although the illness of one of his neighbors keeps it in the mind of the reader.
While this is number 26 in the Gregorian Demarkian series, Haddam makes the book fresh and interesting. The central character (in contrast to Cavanaugh Street) is a town in New York, Mattatuck, that wants to think of itself as a small town although it obviously has growing pains. Chester Morton has been missing for twelve years. His family has continued through all this time to look for him, put up posters and harass people who were thought to have had something to do with his disappearance. Now he has come home, as a corpse hanging from the scaffolding of his own "Missing" billboard. Demarkian is brought in to determine if the act is one of suicide or homicide.
Haddam does an excellent job of portraying both the movers and shakers of Mattatuck as well as the hopeless and poverty stricken. I did think though that Haddam should get Demarkian a better laptop, at least one whose battery lasted longer than half an hour. Also, she uses too many "she said"s and "he said"s, which probably isn't a problem when reading but become noticeable when the book is read aloud.
David Colacci does a very good job as narrator. Both male and female voices are well delineated. I see that he is going to read the next book in this series, Blood in the Water. I hope it also shows up on Audible.
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