“An electrifying read . . . I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” — Stephen King
“Magnificent, thoroughly unnerving . . . I dare you to look away.” — Justin Cronin
Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. He’s out drinking after a bad breakup when a hauntingly seductive woman sits down at his side. He talks to Emmeline over absinthe, but their encounter is fleeting. She brushes her lips on his ear and disappears. He must find her. As Caleb scours the city, he begins helping the city’s medical examiner with a serial-murder investigation. Soon the search for the killer entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes. “A wicked mix of Poe, The Silence of the Lambs, and Vertigo,”* The Poison Artist spins a thrilling tale of obsession, damage, a man unmoored by an unspeakable past, and a woman who offers the ultimate escape.
“A totally new take on the mystery-thriller genre . . . Fresh and unpredictable. The writing is top-notch . . . Grade: A.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Genuinely scary, in the very best way, and nastily twisty, also in the very best way . . . Hypnotic.” — Guardian
* William Landay
This exquisite tale of obsession from Bram Stoker Award finalist Moore (Redheads) opens with Caleb Maddox, a toxicologist and pain researcher, looking in the mirror of a San Francisco hotel bathroom as he picks tiny shards of glass out of his bleeding forehead. A short time before, his live-in lover, now his ex-girlfriend, threw a tumbler in his face. "It was good glass. Murano crystal, maybe," from a set they had bought at Macy's just before she moved in a year earlier. Caleb later leaves the hotel and goes to a bar called the House of Shields, where he meets a mysterious absinthe-drinking woman, Emmeline, who mesmerizes him with a whisper and a titillating silken touch. Caleb's hard-drinking week-plus pursuit of Emmeline parallels the serial killings that he has been secretly investigating with his oldest and closest friend, medical examiner Henry Newcomb. Male bodies have been washing up in the bay with evidence of unspeakable torture. The scientific lore and postmortem techniques may be more than some readers want to know, but the sympathetic, though brutally flawed hero and the shocking, Hitchcock-esque finale make this psychological thriller a must-read.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Chilled to the bone!
Have not been able to stop thinking about this book. Best story, original, smart. Very good read.
Excellent storyline with delicious twists!
This book was engrossing and very fun San Francisco noir with all its speakeasy and foggy charm but unfortunately the ending is very disappointing. I couldn't predict where the story was going early on in the book and stayed up late reading but the ending became too predictable and, the more I think about it, ludicrous. Jonathan Moore can craft a compelling read but somehow the endings are unsatisfying.