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An infant’s death draws Demarkian to a strange Southern town

As a hurricane bears down on Bellerton, North Carolina, Zhondra Meyer opens her gates to the townsfolk. Her farm occupies the area’s highest ground, but the locals are wary of accepting her invitation. Zhondra says her camp is nothing more than a retreat for battered women, but the town’s evangelicals believe that her residents are lesbians, occultists, or, worst of all, satanists—a fear seemingly confirmed when an infant is found ritualistically slaughtered.
 
Former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian might have experience solving religious murders, but he’s never dealt with satanism. Invited by his friend David, one of America’s most prominent atheists, to investigate the murder, Gregor keeps an open mind. What he finds in Bellerton shows that even the most pious Christians are capable of hellish deeds.
Published: MysteriousPress.com Open Road an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on Mar 5, 2013
ISBN: 9781453293119
List price: $9.99
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An interesting volume in the Gregor Demarkian series. A friend of Gregor's, a professor at Columbia, is writing a book on atheism while staying in the small Southern coastal town of Bellerton, North Carolina. The baby of his typist has been murdered, and some women in a neighborhood women's community of mostly lesbian, mostly abused, women, are accused by the mother of the murder while performing a pagan ritual. Some in the neighborhood believe it, some are convinced the mother did it.Another well-told story in the series, with characters representing the full spectrum of the community... though many fit small-town, Southern stereotypes who resent the Northern journalists that see them as ignorant hicks.read more
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No. 15 in the Gregor Demarkian series.The setting is a small town in North Carolina, Bellerton, which has been battered by Hurricane Elsa. But even more upsetting to the town is the murder of a baby on the grounds of a controversial retreat for gay women, whose residents have been accused by local fundamentalist Christians of devil worship—which, of course, requires ritual sacrifice of babies. However, the local law enforcement officers can find no evidence for such an occurrence. A friend of Demarkian’s asks him to help with the investigation; the invitation is seconded eagerly by the town’s police chief, Clayton Hall.Meanwhile, Gregor has become increasingly worried about his friend Father Tibor, who, Gregor is convinced, has developed an unhealthy obsession with the Oklahoma Bomber/Timothy McVeigh case. Gregor is worried that his friend’s health is deteriorating as a result. But, it seems that Gergor’s friends are worried about him, and are convinced that he, Gregor, has been acting strange. Bellerton and murder seem like a good way to distract himself from various worries, real or otherwise, so Gregor packs up and takes off for North Carolina.Naturally, we can’t have a Demarkian mystery with just one murder, so enter others, all women connected with the retreat. Satanic worship and ritual murder seem ever more remote, and Gregor and Clayton Hall, have their hands full with the investigation and increasing body count.Haddam is a formula writer; Baptism in Blood is no exception. But Haddam is also a writer who takes a keen interest in religion. In this book, she examines the expression of Southern fundamentalism in a small town and makes a pretty good case that the northern stereotype just doesn’t hold. Religion—and its opposite, atheism—are an integral part of the story and give it a satisfying complexity.The denoument is standard Demarkian. The end of the book, however, is fun; in the interest of not providing spoilers, I’ll just leave it at that but say that it promises, in further books, a development that Haddam/Demarkian fans have long awaited.Better than some of the more recent installments. Highly recommended.read more
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Reviews

An interesting volume in the Gregor Demarkian series. A friend of Gregor's, a professor at Columbia, is writing a book on atheism while staying in the small Southern coastal town of Bellerton, North Carolina. The baby of his typist has been murdered, and some women in a neighborhood women's community of mostly lesbian, mostly abused, women, are accused by the mother of the murder while performing a pagan ritual. Some in the neighborhood believe it, some are convinced the mother did it.Another well-told story in the series, with characters representing the full spectrum of the community... though many fit small-town, Southern stereotypes who resent the Northern journalists that see them as ignorant hicks.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No. 15 in the Gregor Demarkian series.The setting is a small town in North Carolina, Bellerton, which has been battered by Hurricane Elsa. But even more upsetting to the town is the murder of a baby on the grounds of a controversial retreat for gay women, whose residents have been accused by local fundamentalist Christians of devil worship—which, of course, requires ritual sacrifice of babies. However, the local law enforcement officers can find no evidence for such an occurrence. A friend of Demarkian’s asks him to help with the investigation; the invitation is seconded eagerly by the town’s police chief, Clayton Hall.Meanwhile, Gregor has become increasingly worried about his friend Father Tibor, who, Gregor is convinced, has developed an unhealthy obsession with the Oklahoma Bomber/Timothy McVeigh case. Gregor is worried that his friend’s health is deteriorating as a result. But, it seems that Gergor’s friends are worried about him, and are convinced that he, Gregor, has been acting strange. Bellerton and murder seem like a good way to distract himself from various worries, real or otherwise, so Gregor packs up and takes off for North Carolina.Naturally, we can’t have a Demarkian mystery with just one murder, so enter others, all women connected with the retreat. Satanic worship and ritual murder seem ever more remote, and Gregor and Clayton Hall, have their hands full with the investigation and increasing body count.Haddam is a formula writer; Baptism in Blood is no exception. But Haddam is also a writer who takes a keen interest in religion. In this book, she examines the expression of Southern fundamentalism in a small town and makes a pretty good case that the northern stereotype just doesn’t hold. Religion—and its opposite, atheism—are an integral part of the story and give it a satisfying complexity.The denoument is standard Demarkian. The end of the book, however, is fun; in the interest of not providing spoilers, I’ll just leave it at that but say that it promises, in further books, a development that Haddam/Demarkian fans have long awaited.Better than some of the more recent installments. Highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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