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Authors: Jane Haddam

Cheating at Solitaire

BOOK: Cheating at Solitaire
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MORE PRAISE FOR

CHEATING AT SOLITAIRE

“Haddam is at her best… presenting a glimpse into the celebrity world readers will not easily forget.”

—Library Journal (starred review)

“[This] series keeps getting better, each novel just a little more dramatic, more thought-provoking, and more entertaining than the last… It's about time she gets the A-list status she so richly deserves.”

—Booklist (starred review)

“Haddam is clearly having a good time skewering the obsession with aging teen starlets and their hangers-on.”

—Charlotte Observer

“More compelling than most mysteries,
Cheating at Solitaire
manages a good sense of humor and tight, sharp writing. Haddam lets us ponder celebrity and its meaning, the powerful symbiosis between stars and the public, and our own complicity in the frenzy.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer

…AND FOR JANE HADDAM'S OTHER GREGOR DEMARKIAN NOVELS

GLASS HOUSES

One of those novels that has everything going for it: a crackling plot, an astonishing cast of characters and the best literary exploration of Philadelphia since the works of John O'Hara… Haddam has created an elegant, stylish work with great appeal.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Exhilarating.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Haddam has been writing for many years but manages to produce each time a layered, richly peopled and dryly witty book with a plot of mind-bending complexity.”

—Houston Chronicle

MORE…

“Ranks among her most satisfying, not only because of its intricate plot but also because of its setting and Demark-ian's endearingly infuriating supporting cast… Haddam's Demarkian novels are becoming weightier, perhaps more somber, but also more intriguing—tightly crafted and polished puzzlers well worth the intellectual exercise they demand.”

—The Strand Magazine

“Intelligent, thoughtful… Haddam elevates this twisty whodunit far above most.”

—Publishers Weekly

HARDSCRABBLE ROAD

“A captivating literate mystery.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This latest Demarkian tale is spot-on… there's no slowing this sleuth down.”

—Rocky Mountain News

“Outstanding.”

—Library Journal (starred review)

“Gregor Demarkian is as compelling and intriguing as ever.”

—Booklist

THE HEADMASTER'S WIFE

“Sharp, intelligent and inventive—the kind of mysteries a Dorothy L. Sayers or Josephine Tey might have been proud to come up with.”

—Chicago Tribune

“Campus politics and intrigue intermingle with sex, suicide and possibly murder in… [this] compelling portrait of a closed society rife with sleaze under its veneer of respectability and prestige.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

CONSPIRACY THEORY

“Devotees of strongly written, intelligent mysteries will be pleased that Haddam remains hard at work.”

—Booklist

“[A] fascinating study in conspiracies and those who adhere to them… The book is as up-to-date as today's headlines.”

—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

SOMEBODY ELSE'S MUSIC

“Fresh… suspects and victims who are as fascinating and entertaining as her recurring cast… riveting!”

—January Magazine

“Dazzlingly ingenious, Jane Haddam's novels provide style, humor, and philosophy—they're real spellbinders, sparklingly written and smashingly plotted.”

—Drood Review

TRUE BELIEVERS

“An engrossingly complex mystery that should win further acclaim for its prolific and talented author.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Haddam is a fine and compassionate writer, and Demmarkian… is one of the more interesting series leads in the mystery marketplace. It's a pleasure to find a solid mystery combined with engaging discussions of issues outside the genre. A guaranteed winner.”

—Booklist

SKELETON KEY

“Sophisticated style, excellent delivery, and riveting plot.”

—Library Journal

“A delightful read for lovers of classic crime stories.”

—Romantic Times

The Gregor Demarkian Books by Jane Haddam

Skeleton Key

True Believers Somebody Else's Music

Conspiracy Theory

The Headmaster's Wife

Hardscrabble Road

Glass Houses

Cheating at
Solitaire

A Gregor Demarkian Novel

Jane Haddam

St. Martin's Paperbacks

NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

CHEATING AT SOLITAIRE

Copyright © 2008 by Orania Papazoglou.
Excerpt from
Living Witness copyright
© 2009 by Orania Papazoglou.

Cover photo of house © Gary Buss/Getty Images.

All rights reserved.

For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

ISBN: 0-312-94340-7
EAN: 978-0-312-94340-0

Printed in the United States of America

St. Martin's Press hardcover edition / April 2008
St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / April 2009

St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

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Cheating at
Solitaire

Prologue

1

There were things that Annabeth Falmer understood, and things she did not understand, and among the things she understood the least was what she was doing on Margaret's Harbor in the middle of the biggest nor'easter to hit New England since 1853.

Actually, she didn't understand what she was doing on Margaret's Harbor at all, but thinking about that made her head ache, and the last thing she needed in the face of snow coming down at two inches an hour was a headache. She was only about a mile from the center of Oscartown, but she didn't think she'd be able to make it in for a spare bottle of aspirin.

It was two o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 31st, but it might as well have been the middle of the night. The world outside Annabeth's window was not black, but it was impossible to see anything in. The snow was so heavy, she was in a kind of whiteout. The only visibility was to the east of her, where the ocean was, and even that was like something out of a surrealist aesthetic. She could see waves, white-tipped and agitated. She could see snow piling into drifts against the tall metal parking meters that had been set out along the beach for people who came in from the landlocked towns. Most of all, she could see the tall oceanward tower of the Point. There was a light on up there, the way there always was now that Kendra Rhode had taken up residence for the duration.

“Who in the name of God names a baby Kendra?” Annabeth said, to the cat, who was the only one besides herself
at home. She was talking to the cat a lot lately. It was probably inevitable, but it still made her feel oddly sick at the pit of her stomach. Things had not worked out as badly as she had thought they would, back in the days when she lay awake night after night not knowing how she was going to get through another week, but they hadn't exactly worked out as a triumph, either.

The cat's name was Creamsicle because that's what he looked like: oddly orange and white the way the ice-cream bar had looked in Annabeth's childhood. She tried not to wonder if there were Creamsicles for sale any longer—everything seemed to disappear, except the things that didn't, and those tended to be around forever—and got the cat off the ledge of the landing window. He was a small cat, less than a year old. Annabeth wasn't sure he had ever seen snow before.

“Trust me,” she told him, dropping him down onto the kitchen floor as soon as she walked through the door. “You only think you want to go out. It's cold out there, and wet, and there isn't a single cat treat for miles.”

Then she got the cat treats out and gave him three different colored ones on the mat next to his food bowl. She was a compact, middle-aged woman, thinner than she should have been, with hair that had gone gray so long ago she couldn't remember what color it had been before. Even so, she didn't think she was really becoming one of those people, the ones who spent all their time by themselves and talked to their cats and knitted things they never used, the ones who were found dead after a month and a half because the neighbors smelled something odd coming out of the apartment.

For one thing, Annabeth thought, she didn't knit. For another, this was not an apartment, but a house, and an expensive one, and her sons called four times a day trying to make sure she wasn't completely suicidal. It was one of the few things she didn't mind about this nor'easter. It had reduced cell phone reception to absolutely nil.

She filled the kettle full of water and put it on to boil. She got her violently orange teapot down from the shelf over the sink and dumped two large scoops of loose Double Bergamot
Earl Grey into the bottom of it. The tea was a bad sign, but the teapot wasn't. It hadn't occurred to her, when she'd told John and Robbie that what she really wanted was to spend a year on Margaret's Harbor with nothing to do but read, that she would actually spend her time worrying that she was turning into a cliché out of something by Agatha Christie.

BOOK: Cheating at Solitaire
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