Wednesday, February 28

Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe

Review by Gloria Feit


The body of Lindsey Alexander is found in her LA-area penthouse apartment, in her bathtub Jacuzzi, with what appears to be a suicide note beside the tub.  Ivan Novak, her close friend and business manager, asks Claudia Rose, a noted handwriting analyst frequently called in by the police, among others, for her expert assistance, to examine the note [not trusting the police to have done a proper job] to prove, or disprove, that it was indeed Lindsey's handwriting.  The note consists of six words, not a whole lot to work with.  There is no lacking for suspects:  Lindsey was a woman who made enemies with ease, and at one point Claudia thinks, "Maybe the world is better off without someone who made a career of hurting others."


At one point in time Lindsey, Claudia, and a third woman, Kelly Brennan, had been best friends.  Lindsey had been following the same path as Claudia in handwriting analysis, but had dropped out to forge a very successful career in public relations, with many high profile clients.  But her sadistic propensities had caused Claudia and Kelly to have maintained only the most superficial contact with Lindsey for at least the past ten years.  Now, with events indicating Kelly may become a suspect in what is increasingly believed to have been Lindsey's murder, and beyond authenticating the 'suicide note,' Claudia determines that "she would have to do everything within her ability to uncover the truth."  She also comes to realize that "personal acquaintances make the worst clients."


The resulting tale is fast-paced and filled with interesting tidbits on graphology [handwriting analysis], one that the author is well-placed to do since that has been her profession for over thirty-five years, having authored books on the subject and testified in court as a forensic handwriting expert.


I must admit to having had a problem when Claudia, before the police arrive, takes two items from a crime scene that might be crucial evidence, even given her determination to get to the truth; admittedly the author makes her 'theft' integral to that part of the plot, but it seemed like something someone that sophisticated wouldn't have done.  Other instances stretch credulity as well, as when Claudia puts herself in harm's way on more than one occasion.  That aside, Poison Pen is a good read, and one that I enjoyed.


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