The battles on reality television lead to murder, just as you always knew they would.
Ex–FBI agent Gregor Demarkian, the Armenian-American Hercule Poirot, is back in Philadelphia from his honeymoon with longtime love Bennis. He’s feeling so lackadaisical about crime-solving that he has to force himself to respond to the Very Old Ladies of Cavanaugh Street, who insist that Sophie Mgrdchian has been laid low by some strange woman who has moved into her house. Even Bennis has to prod Demarkian to investigate what’s happening at the Bryn Mawr estate she hasn’t set foot in since her father was murdered there ten years ago, a place her brother has rented out to a TV-reality show, America’s Next Superstar, for filming. Unfortunately, one of the eliminated hopefuls has taken a pot shot at vicious, nasty-mouthed Superstar judge Sheila Dunham. While Sophie lies in a coma, the strange woman claims to be her dead brother's sister-in-law. Someone takes another shot at Sheila. That uninvited contestant is murdered. And the 13 girls vying for superstardom bicker, bicker, bicker. Using every one of the little gray cells he evidently shares with Poirot, Demarkian rouses himself from the doldrums to assign blame to a practiced scam artist and a jilted lover.
Haddam (Living Witness, 2009, etc.) gleefully satirizes reality TV and offers a well-thought-out appreciation of Agatha Christie’s novels, which she lets Demarkian savor for the first time.