Good grief. Or grief with a hidden agenda?
When a Cavanaugh Street stalwart, 99-year-old George Tekemanian, collapses during breakfast at the Ararat restaurant, Gregor Demarkian (Wanting Sheila Dead, 2010, etc.) escorts him to the hospital before he leaves Philadelphia for Mattatuck, N.Y., a small town turned small city, to consult on a case concerning a man missing 12 years who suddenly turns up swinging from a billboard at the entrance to the community college. Less interested in the plight of the deceased (Chester Morton) than in the fate of his friend George, Gregor (aka the "Armenian Poirot") uses only half his little grey cells to consider whether it was murder or suicide and the rest to keep calling his love Bennis and the hospital to see how George is holding up. Still, he probes for the answers to four questions: Why did Chester leave Mattatuck? Why did he return? Whose baby was jammed into a bright-yellow backpack, possibly the only item Chester had with him when he disappeared, now uncovered on a construction sight? And why is Chester’s mom Charlene still demanding information about her missing son if she’s so convinced his former girlfriend killed him that she’s virtually stalking her? It seems equally abnormal to grieve loudly and conspicuously for a dozen years like Charlene and to grieve for a friend who isn’t yet dead like Gregor. There’ll be two murders; hubbub at a trailer park; incompetence and deceit at the local cop shop; and the theft of Chester’s body from a funeral home storage locker before Gregor wraps up matters and plans are floated to celebrate George’s 100th birthday.
Will work for those who favor overlooked clues planted in plain sight and great detective summations.