Book of the Day Review
Cross a hard-drinking, hard-nosed, hard-boiled 70’s PI with a guy who likes bugs and classical music and you get C. V. Riley. Riley, the hero of Poisoned Justice by Jeffrey Lockwood, copes with the vermin of 1970’s San Francisco with neither regrets nor excuses.
When an ecology professor is found dead in his Los Angeles hotel room, his death is chalked up to natural causes—but his widow thinks otherwise. And after examining insects from the room, so does Riley. Promised a princely sum for his favorite charity, Riley, an ex-cop turned pest exterminator, agrees to help the widow find the truth. His investigations lead him from the conference attendees in LA, to the professor’s friends and enemies in Berkley, and even to the drug trade in San Francisco. He has run-ins with professors, pot-growers, drug-dealers, radical ecology-activists, and sexy teaching assistants. The list of suspects grows when he learns the dead professor had plans to bomb a chemical plant. Could the politically connected bigwigs in the chemical business have put a hit out on the professor?
Riley’s backstory, carefully woven into the fast-paced action, reveals his motivation to rid San Francisco of vermin—both the 6-legged and the 2-legged kind. But how will he do it? Will he go the legal route or take care of business in his own way?
Lockwood’s book fits well into the tough PI genre with seedy bars, fist-fights, and even the practice of giving suspects the third degree. The characters, though a bit insensitive, are true to the attitudes and turmoil of California in the late ‘60’s. Fans of the fictional characters of Raymond Chandler or Robert Parker will enjoy this tough but sensitive lover of booze, bugs, and Beethoven.
Jeanie Stewart has been a mother, grandmother, speaker, freelance editor, teacher, and library director, but before, during, and after these, she was a writer. Her first novel was published in 1997. Eight books followed in Bantam’s SVU series, including thrillers: Don’t Answer the Phone and Deadly Terror. She has published 9 children’s books for Steck-Vaughn and Rigby. Ten Book Summer won the Missouri Writer’s Guild 2002 award for Best Juvenile book. New Coach Blues won the same award in 2004. Shifting Ground won MWG’s award for best book about Missouri. She has also published numerous short stories and articles for children and adults