Poison is the 17th book in the Dismas Hardy series by John Lescroart. It begins with Dismas recovering from gunshot wounds, easing into retirement, when a former client shows up. He had defended Abby Jarvis on a DUI charge eleven years previously, and she needs help again.
With her record, finding work hadn’t been that easy, but she her friend Gloria Wagner got her a job as a bookkeeper for the extremely successful Wagner family business. Gloria is one of the four adult Wagner children, all of whom have all worked in the business for their father Grant, who has just been murdered. Dismas agrees to help Abby, who is the primary suspect. It turns out that Abby has been receiving a LOT of cash under-the-table from the company, but she insists she didn’t kill Grant. Dismas also begins to wonder whether the cash was embezzled (as the police believe), or if Abby’s claim that Grant knew all along that she was taking the cash is true.
As he prepares for the trial, Dismas investigates the Wagner family, and discovers that the lives of these four adult children include secrets, heavy sibling rivalry, jealousy, betrayal, and blackmail. As his investigation gets closer and closer to the truth, Dismas figures out that the company’s multi-million dollar market value gives at least one of the siblings motive, and realizes that he has become a target as well.
A parallel storyline involves two SFPD detectives, focusing particularly on one of them, Eric Waverly. This added narrative provides some additional procedural plotline and makes for a more interesting story.
Fans of Lescroart will love this book. With thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley, this one gets four stars.