Psst. Are you reading this review/voting for that candidate/gobbling that fast food/watching that game show or TV anchor because you want to, or are you controlled by the CIA or the Illuminati?
When billionaire banker Anthony van Wyck Ross and his patronizing Main Line wife Charlotte are killed barely a week apart in their spacious Bryn Mawr driveway and Father Tibor Kasparian’s Holy Trinity Armenian Christian Church in nearby Philadelphia is bombed almost the moment the financier cashes his last check, the common denominator seems to be the Harridan Report, a handful of tracts delivered by a fringe group called America on Alert. Although no one’s ever met chief Reporter Michael Harridan, the FBI is watching his paranoid followers, especially lumpen Kathi Mittendorf. When an undercover FBI agent also turns up dead, the press and the local fuzz are convinced the wacko conspiracists are at work again, but Armenian-American Poirot Gregor Demarkian focuses instead on analyzing the motives of Ross’s family members and his confidential assistant David Alden, now immersed in the Price Heaven bankruptcy. Briefed on society decorum by his girlfriend Bennis and on crime-scene clues by Police Commissioner Jackman, Gregor zeroes in Harridan, but not before tracing conspiracy theorists back to the Middle Ages.
Sometimes windy but never preachy, Haddam (Somebody Else’s Music, 2002, etc.) provides a well-documented primer (Internet sites duly cited) on the scary reasoning shared by generations of conspiracy nuts and the snobbery of old money.