A Book Spy Review: ‘Poison’ by John Lescroart


Following the events of The Fall (2015), Dismas Hardy is still recovering from a couple point-blank gunshot wounds as he eases his way into semi-retirement. He’s sworn off long hours at work and promised to not take on any stressful cases.

Instead of working long hours, Dismas trades in time at the office to do more relaxing things, like spending time at AT&T Park watching and cheering on the hometown Giants with his son on Opening Day. Even so, his distraction level is high. While his son buries his face in his smartphone, Dismas appears to be focused on the sun-drenched field. In truth, the former Marine finds himself thinking about his own mortality (he’s now been shot a total of four times) and trying to ignore his cell phone, which is being blown up by his secretary, Phyllis. 

It turns out that Abby Jarvis, a woman Hardy represented many years prior, is once again in hot water. After doing jail time for vehicular manslaughter while driving intoxicated, Abby finally got out and was trying to piece her life back together. Grant Wagner, the wealthy owner of a plumbing supply company, gave her a second chance and hired her to help him manage his books. But now Wagner is dead, from what first appeared to be a heart attack but was later–after his children requested additional tests–found to be aconite poisoning. . .  and the police think Abby is the killer. 

Hardy, after talking to her, believes Abby to be innocent and agrees to represent her. The evidence against her, however, is overwhelming. Not only do police believe Abby was embezzling money from Wagner’s company, but she also stood to profit from his death in more ways than one. Abby, meanwhile, insists she was nothing but thankful to the man who gave her an opportunity when nobody else would, and Dismas clings to that as he searches for a plausible defense. 

A portion of the book follows two detectives who connect a couple of murders together, which spills over when Dismas tries to link that to his defense. While that part of the plot does wander a bit, it proves necessary once Hardy discovers that his son was friends with one of the victims. Realizing he and those around him are in danger, including Abby, Hardy tries to pull off the ultimate balancing act before it’s too late and things come crashing down around him. 

Well-written and brimming with nail-biting suspense, Lescroart proves that Dismas Hardy is still a force to be reckoned with inside the courtroom. Poison has a very Law & Order-like feel to it, and Hardy’s courtroom antics are reminiscent of Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller. The one negative is that readers will likely spot the killer early on, lessening the impact of the final reveal. Even so, Lescroart’s novel is rich with compelling, well-developed characters, and his writing is as sharp as ever. 

After taking a break from Dismas Hardy to write Fatal, last year’s thrilling standalone novel about a one-night-stand that turns deadly, John Lescroart brings back his beloved character for yet another high-pressure case. The veteran bestselling author knows how to keep fans on their toes, and still has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. . . Poison is a blast to read, and Lescroart’s fans will love spending more time with Hardy, who’s back and better than ever in this one. 

Book Details

Author: John Lescroart 
Series: Dismas Hardy #17
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501115707
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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