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The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore

The Poison Artist (2016)

by Jonathan Moore

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10412171,029 (3.55)7



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Yikes!. How to review this book and avoid spoilers, and while I generally have no problem with spoilers, in this case letting you know that the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed a train might ruin the splat.

Caleb's girlfriend, Bridget, has left him after throwing an ashtray at his head. We are not sure precisely what the infraction might have been (nor do we ever find out for certain although the hints are there,) but while drowning his sorrows in the bar he sees a stunning woman, an instant infatuation. Caleb is doing research on the physical manifestations of pain, e.g. hormones released, etc. Chemicals. "Guy gets hurt, his endocrine system responds. Adrenaline, endorphins. Damaged cells dump out different histamines. There’s paracrine signaling going on—that’s cell-to-cell communication—with compounds like prostaglandin and thromboxane. Bunch of other stuff. Pain leaves markers, and I’m following them. To quantify it."

He's also an expert in bizarre toxins. “Batrachotoxin." ...."The median lethal dose is ninety micrograms—a couple grains of salt,” Caleb said. “And all you’d have to do is touch it.” People start turning up loaded with this toxin.

I shall say no more other than to recommend this book if you have an interest in the bizarre mechanisms of the mind. Whether the events here represent anything approaching reality is a bit frightening. ( )
  ecw0647 | Dec 8, 2018 |
I listened to the audio for this book and found the reader to be very good. I would definitely classify Jonathan Moore as an excellent writer. The main character, Caleb Maddox, is very flawed and unstable. He has developed a mental illness from a brutal childhood experience. He is a toxicologist and is trying to use his profession as a way to escape his mental illness but he seems to be unable to escape. The book starts out slow but soon takes off and I found it hard to stop listening to the story. It is a dark and creepy novel but I liked it a lot and found it very different. I also liked the San Francisco setting. I'm looking forward to reading more from Jonathan Moore and I would highly recommend this series to those who like psycho-thrillers. ( )
  EadieB | Feb 9, 2018 |
I felt this book was a little slow to start. I actually put it down for a couple of weeks around page 70 and read a few other things. Then I felt guilty for not finishing it and decided to forge my way through. It picked up after page 100. It had a decidedly noir feel to it, which isn't my usual cup of tea, probably why I put it down. However I found the storyline and twists and turns interesting. The book is well written and the reader does become immersed in the world. I was impressed by the sensuality of the writing, usually men struggle with that, but all senses were engaged and it felt real. It's not impossible to figure out what's really going on, but as a reader you'll probably make a few false guesses first. Overall I enjoyed the book immensely and would recommend to anyone who likes dark thrillers. ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
Wow, I really struggled to get through this book. Two things made it hard for me.
1. The first half moved very slow for me, and I struggle with books that reference events ( that have happened in the past) to a main character, but the reader is not made aware of the specifics until later in the book.
2. The second half certainly paced much better, but the storyline blurred, and was too hard for me to figure out, was this book horror, fantasy, or a murder mystery.
I read The Dark Room also by this author before reading this book, and I am really glad I did, as I really liked it, which made me like the author, but this book didn't work nearly as well for me. ( )
  zmagic69 | Jun 7, 2017 |
TPA starts off well, there’s a fight, a thrown glass, blood, an ex and a mystery woman. The subject of the fight was kept hidden from the reader for a while, as is much else about Caleb. After a while though, Caleb is a drag. He’s an emo kid all grown up, but still mooning, pining, daydreaming. But as more and more of his childhood trauma is revealed, you almost forgive him. Then after a while, the allure of the reason for the breakup becomes annoying, too. The ex in question talks about it directly to Caleb, but obliquely. No one would talk like that. During that discussion I guessed at a reason and I was right. What I didn’t guess is the deeper reason for the vasectomy; ostensibly because of his father’s sins, but really because of his own.

In a sense I read the rest of the book in spite of itself. The mystery was a good one, but boy the Emmaline character really got to be too much. As a reader, you know she’s full of shit you just don’t know how much. I wish Moore had toned her down a bit. Overall though he fooled me and I was happy about that. I should have twigged, but I let my guard down and just went with the story. Sometimes it’s better that way. ( )
  Bookmarque | Mar 8, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544520564, Hardcover)

“An electrifying read… I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” —Stephen King

"Patient, stylish and incredibly suspenseful"—Lee Child

A tale of desire, obsession, and deadly mystery, with echoes of Vertigo

Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he is drinking whiskey at the speakeasy House of Shields 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 are fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One man vanished from House of Shields the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can't offer any information. But he is secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, understand the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. Caleb’s search for the killer soon entwines with his hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes. 
The Poison Artist is a gripping literary thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape. 


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 17 Dec 2015 19:25:18 -0500)

Dr. Caleb Maddox, a San Francisco toxicologist, meets a mysterious and hauntingly irresistable woman at a bar, and as he searches for her after their encounter, he becomes entangled in a serial murder investigation.

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