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by Lynne Raimondo
Seventh Street Books, May 2014
271 pages
ISBN: 1616148799

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When an author has such a great debut as Raimondo had with DANTE'S WOOD, there's a bit of trepidation as one picks up the sophomore effort. No worries! The second book in the Mark Angelotti series, DANTE'S POISON, lives up to the high standard set in the first. Angelotti, as a newly blind psychiatrist who serves as an expert psychological witness in trials, requires a bit more explanation than the average sleuth. Raimondo accomplishes this for readers new to the series by having Angelotti apply to be a patient in a trial for a drug that could ameliorate, or possibly even cure, his blindness. During the application process, enough backstory is provided to give the new reader an understanding of Angelotti's condition. This very clever approach also helps the reader understand Angelotti's state of mind.

As Angelotti is in the process of beginning the drug trial, Hallie Sanchez, a friend and possible love interest, asks for his help as an expert witness in her legal defense of her long-time friend, Jane. Jane has a reputation as something of a velociraptor in the legal world of Chicago. Her lover, a muckraking journalist, has just been killed, and a witness described a woman looking much like Jane entering the journalist's home during the murder's window of time. Hallie believes that Angelotti could discredit that witness on the stand, so he begins an investigation to prepare for the trial.

The investigation leads Angelotti into the dark side of pharmaceutical company practices while uncovering several other deaths. Depression and psychopathology play a role, and Raimondo provides the specifics related to these topics without lecturing. Throughout the process, Angelotti deals with his anxiety about his own blindness and consequent inability to protect Hallie. His participation in the drug trial plays a nice counterpoint to his investigation of psychopharmacological drugs, and Raimondo does a fantastic job of describing what happens as the one collides with the other.

The landscape described in DANTE'S POISON is filtered through Angelotti's blindness, so it exists more in his head than in the real world around him. Nonetheless, it is masterfully described, and the reader feels as though (s)he has been transported to this very different world. Though the book is largely character-driven, there are suspenseful moments when the plot takes over. This allows the reader to enjoy flying along, fully immersed in the story line, and then enjoy equally the time spent with Angelotti and his thoughts. With the psychological expert witness conceit that the series is built upon, Raimondo has set Angelotti up for a future of fascinating investigations. I am looking forward to seeing what world she opens up through his uniquely sightless research in the next book in the series.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, May 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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