Initial discussion at the meeting covered reports of Syrian Armenian refugees moving to Armenia and not being accepted into society very easily. There was also discussion of an increase in propane driven cars and solar powered mini-buses in Armenia.
When discussion moved on to the book of the month I was somewhat disappointed that all of the other five attendees disliked at least some parts of the book in various degrees.
Francis has said in the past that he normally doesn't like fiction books, so that wasn't surprising. Azad said that he had a difficult time following the storyline.
Jim didn't think that Demarkian acted very much like a police detective. That prompted a discussion among the rest of us about how Gregor Demarkian, being a retired FBI agent, wasn't actively in the police department which was investigating the murder(s). He had originally been invited to the house of the man who was murdered and then invited to continue as a consultant by police detective who was in charge of the investigation. This gave him full access to the crime scenes but allowed him to avoid all of the piddly paperwork that the actual police had to do.
Jim indicated that he had read a later book by the same author and thought that that one was better written.
We discussed the author for a little bit. Jane Haddam is a pen name for Orania Papazoglou. She published her first couple of books under her own name and also published a couple of 'romance' stories under the pen name of Nicola Andrews. While I can't find it specifically stated anywhere, she appears to be of Greek descent without any Armenian blood. When she started writing the Gregor Demarkian series she chose to make him Armenian because she had found that people had a harder time handling Greek names. When she chose the location for the stories to take place, she was aware of Armenian areas in Fresno and Philadelphia, so she chose Philadelphia because it would be more familiar to her. She based the Cavanaugh Street neighborhood in the book on the Astoria, Queens, Greek neighborhood in New York City.
Another humorous note from an interview that I found with her is that when she was choosing a pen name she went to her favorite book store, went to the mystery section and looked at the book shelves in front of her. The books at eye level were by authors whose names started with 'H', so she chose 'Haddam' as her pen name.
After a little more discussion about the book it seemed like Jim, Tashina and Azad would consider reading more of Jane Haddam's books. I have a couple more in my queue that I plan on reading, too.
We moved on to discussion of future books to read. Azad mentioned that he read "Secret Nation: The Hidden Armenians of Turkey" by Avedis Hadjian. He didn't recommend it for the club. He said that it had good information in it but that it was very dry and composed entirely of interviews.
I mentioned a book that I had picked up but haven't yet read called "Ellis Island Interviews" by Peter Morgan Coan. It is also composed entirely of interviews of people who passed through Ellis Island to enter the United States.
The book that we have chosen for next month is "The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History" by William C. Rempel. The meeting is scheduled to be held at Andria's house on February 21st. She will send out the address a little bit closer in time to the meeting.
Have fun and read more!