Book of the Day
A Perfectly Natural Murder
By William Griggs
Publication Date: July 2019
A Perfectly Natural Murder
Review by Sharon Marchisello
A Perfectly Natural Murder, William Grigg's first published novel, has been nominated for a Silver Falchion award.
The story opens with an insurance company office party where several guests are sickened and hospitalized after eating a homemade bouillabaisse. One doesn't make it. Toxicology experts, including the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, determine the cause of the woman's demise to be paralytic shellfish poisoning, sometimes associated with red tides. A natural death. Or was it?
Three characters alternate narration, and the timeline jumps around a bit to cover events and relationships pre- and post- party. The first narrator is Buck Grand, a disabled veteran suffering from PTSD, who works in the employee services division. Among his duties are oversight of the company's food service and safety, as well as ghostwriting outgoing Vice President Jeffrey Spencer's book on management. Another viewpoint character is Adrianna Canter, young claims lawyer and budding love-interest for Buck. She succumbs to the poisoning at the party, but recovers. The third narrator is the victim, Evelyn Robbins, Jeffrey's administrative assistant (and rumored former lover) who was universally disliked.
Once it has been determined that Evelyn's death was not a homicide, the police don't get involved, so most of the employees resume their normal lives. Buck is most concerned with proving that he could not have known the shellfish was contaminated, and no amount of cooking or care in storage could have prevented the poisoning. Thus, there was no negligence, and the employees of the insurance company can feel confident that the food served in their cafeteria is safe. Adrianna's main focus is an investigation into leaks about active claims from an insider to personal injury lawyers who end up winning huge settlements against the company.
Something about the toxin doesn't add up. Is Evelyn's death related to Adrianna's investigation? And someone thinks Buck and Adrianna might be venturing too close to the truth…
William Grigg served as a spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration during the Tylenol poisoning crisis and for the US Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at other major turning points. He has worked as a reporter and contributed to several nonfiction books. His wife, Martha Livdahl Grigg, is also an author.
Sharon Marchisello (sharonmarchisello.com) is the author of Going Home, (Sunbury Press, 2014) a murder mystery inspired by her mother's battle with Alzheimer's disease, and a nonfiction book about personal finance, Live Well, Grow Wealth. Her psychological suspense novel, Secrets of the Galapagos, will be released by Sunbury Press next month. One of her short stories was published in an anthology, Shhhh… Murder! (Darkhouse Books, 2018). She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a member of the Atlanta chapter of Sisters in Crime. Residing in Peachtree City, GA, Sharon does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society and the Fayette County Master Gardeners, and she also writes a blog about personal finance, Countdown to Financial Fitness https://sharonmarchisello.blogspot.com/.