Fall comes to Pepin County with a vengeance as Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins confronts a new evil festering beneath the placid surface of the Wisconsin farm community. A refugee from the Twin Cities, Claire has slowly adapted to small-town life–especially now that she loves and lives with Rich Haggard. But in this rural area, other folks are dangerously restless.
One is Daniel Reiner, a wealthy part-time resident who’s been buying up too much land–at least as far as the locals are concerned. Another is gambling addict and aging gold digger Patty Jo Tilde, who recently married a widower twenty years her senior. Patty is itching to inherit her husband’s property, sell it to Reiner, and leave the countryside behind. The only stumbling block–her husband must die.
Add to the mix a suspicious goat-herding daughter-in-law and a wounded elk, and things quickly reach a boiling point. As Claire Watkins delves deeper into the mystery, she believes she’s uncovered a deadly history of lies, deceit, arson, and poison. Her problem is to prove it–and then she learns what happened to Patty Jo’s last husband. . . .
Evoking the strong community values and the natural beauty of the Mississippi River Valley, this new Claire Watkins novel is Logue’s most exciting yet. Poison Heart is a riveting tale of those who live off the land–and those who end up six feet under it.
Deputy sheriff Claire Watkins is on the case once again in Logue's latest mystery (after Bone Harvest), set as usual in the small but not-so-sleepy town of Fort St. Antoine, Wis., population 142. The story opens on ruthless gold-digger Patty Jo Tilde as she idly watches her husband, Walter, suffer a stroke, hoping he'll die so she can sell the family farm. A how-will-she-solve-it rather than a whodunit, the novel's fun is in rooting for Claire as she first suspects and then resourcefully tries to prove what the reader knows all along. With the exception of the nasty Patty Jo the lone Fort St. Antoine resident with a penchant for murder and arson rather than baking cherry pies the novel offers an endearing cast of characters. When not busy sleuthing, Claire enjoys a smalltown camaraderie with charming fellow citizens, who include farmers, a retired schoolteacher, a bookstore owner, an artist and Claire's live-in steady, Rich Haggard. Except for a few tense moments, this is a kinder, gentler novel of suspense, engagingly but slowly paced. Logue's fans who have followed Claire's evolution from big city policewoman to smalltown cop and from new widow to contented girlfriend will be cheered by her resilience and continuing crime-solving adventures.