In Cheating At Solitaire, the 22nd Gregor Demarkian mystery, Jane Haddam gives us a mystery that is more a novel of manners focused on America's celebrity subculture--which, of course, has neither manners nor culture. Her setting is the island of Martha's Vineyard, thinly-veiled in the fictional name Margaret's Harbor, with principal enclave Oscartown, where a movie is being made in the off-season. A nor'easter rolls in, dumps a ton of snow, cuts off ferry service, and generally baffles the L.A. movie people and their horde of paparazzi. The police appear to be equally baffled by a murder in which the primary suspect is one of the three young females who are the object of all the paparazzi attention--think Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, likewise thinly-veiled by names Arrow (the primary suspect), Marcey and Kendra. Also starring in the movie is Stewart Gordon, a nice conflation of Sean Connery and Patrick Stewart, who happens to be an old chum of ex-FBI agent Gregor Demarkian. Gordon is the only one with a grasp on anything, and he persuades the tiny, ill-equipped island law enforcement folk to call in Gregor to solve the case--but not before another death and a mutilation have occurred.
Cheating at Solitaire is a social commentary on the more vapid and vicious aspects of our popular culture; and while the case doesn't turn out to be that hard to crack, it is cleverly enough written that no one is likely to mind that it is not much of a mystery.