Retired FBI profiler Gregor Demarkian (widely regarded as the American Hercule Poirot) returns in Jane Haddam's latest thriller, Glass Houses. As the book opens, a Philadelphia serial murderer dubbed The Plate Glass Killer has struck again, but the case appears to be open-and-shut. Henry Tyder, awash in the victim's blood, has been arrested at the scene of the crime, and more importantly, he has confessed. Two problems, though: First, Tyder is a bit of a loony; second, he has an irrefutable alibi for one of the murders. To further complicate matters, he is the ne'er-do-well scion of a prominent Main Line family and a longtime blackout alcoholic. His attorney engages Demarkian to look into the case, with surprising and chilling results. Like the 20-odd Demarkian novels that precede it, Glass Houses is a beautifully written, insightful and compelling mystery. And, if the denouement is a bit improbable, hey, so were many of Hercule Poirot's.

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