Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Poison Artist - Think Someone Dies?

TITLE: The Poison Artist
AUTHOR: Jonathan Moore
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PUBLISHING DATE: January 26, 2016

FROM GOODREADS: Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape.

MY THOUGHTS:  I had high expectations for this book and unfortunately, I found it somewhat lacking. The story is interesting enough. Dr. Caleb Maddox is a researcher at a San Francisco lab. His best friend, Henry, runs the city morgue and his girlfriend, Bridget, is an area artist. Following a break up with Bridget, in which she throws a glass at his head and almost knocks him out, Caleb meets the mysterious Emmeline and the story only starts to get more complicated from there. Secrets abound in this thriller and there are a lot of unanswered questions about Caleb's past, what caused the breakup with Bridget, and why is he so suddenly obsessed with Emmeline. In addition, there is a serial killer wrecking havoc in town and Caleb is helping his friend Henry, and the local police, to try and figure out what is going on.

I really like the dark and creepy vibe of this story and I think Moore is an author to watch. He managed to take a lot of scientific lingo and concepts and weave them through the book in a way that didn't bore or confuse me. However, I did have a few problems with "The Poison Artist." Firstly, I thought the story was way too predictable. I pretty much had a feeling what was going on through most of the book, but at least I was interested enough with Moore's writing to keep moving on with it. Secondly. not since "Gone Girl" have I seen a cast of people who I didn't really like. I never really felt much of a connection with any of them, except maybe Henry, who although I liked, I could have even lived without.

Overall I am giving "The Poison Artist" a 3/5 rating. The writing is strong and I think Moore can tell a good tale, but this just wasn't the one for me. However, I didn't really dislike the book either, it just left me feeling "...meh."



  1. To bad, it sounds like a really interesting book, but I hate when I get a book that is just Meh. Great review.

  2. It's always sad when one gets that "meh" feeling, right?!? ERK. Such a pity since this one sounds like it had such good writing and creep-factor. But predictability really ruins books like these eh?! You gotta have surprises to make them exciting! Hope your next read is better, Barb. :)

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!