From the bestselling author whose prose “matches the best of John Grisham and Scott Turow” (Providence Journal) comes a gripping thriller featuring attorney Dismas Hardy as he investigates the murder of a wealthy man whose heirs are all potential suspects.
Finally recovered from two gunshot wounds, Dismas Hardy is looking forward to easing into retirement and reconnecting with his family. But he is pulled back into the courtroom when Grant Wagner, the steely owner of a successful family business, is murdered. The prime suspect is Wagner’s bookkeeper Abby Jarvis, a former client of Hardy’s, who had been receiving large sums of cash under-the-table from the company—but she insists that she’s innocent.
Preparing for trial, Dismas investigates the Wagner clan and discovers dark, twisted secrets, jealous siblings, gold-digging girlfriends, betrayals, and blackmail. The closer he gets to the Wagners, the clearer it becomes that Dismas has a target painted on his back. With razor-sharp dialogue and whip-smart plotting, Poison once again demonstrates that “Lescroart is a master craftsman” (Associated Press).
About the Author
Hometown:El Macero, California
Date of Birth:January 14, 1948
Place of Birth:Houston, Texas
Education:B.A. in English with Honors, UC Berkeley, 1970
Read an Excerpt
IF OPENING DAY wasn’t the happiest landmark in Dismas Hardy’s year, he didn’t know what was.
From the time he was eleven—when the Giants had arrived in San Francisco—until he was eighteen—the year before his father died—he had never missed attending the yearly ritual with his dad, first at Seals Stadium and then at Candlestick Park.
Adding to the mystique, in an era that pretty much ignored the concept of father-son bonding, Hardy’s father had considered this time he spent with his only son a major priority, far more important than the vicissitudes of everyday life, including his own job or his son’s time in the classroom. The renegade in Joe Hardy had believed that a man must keep his priorities straight, and some rules were made to be broken. He had no problem declaring Opening Day a de facto holiday, regardless of the opinion of the administrators at his son’s schools.
He would pass this flexibility along to his son.
For Dismas, those days in the company of his father, watching big-league baseball in person, were among the most cherished experiences of his young life. It didn’t matter that they had occurred in the cramped bandbox of Seals Stadium or the freezing wind tunnel that was Candlestick Park.
Great as those days had been, he thought that this one was better.
Part of it, of course, was AT&T Park, which to his mind was essentially the platonic ideal of the ballpark. (Although, of course, how could Plato have known?) His seats, courtesy of a client who’d moved to Oregon and sold his season tickets to Hardy to keep or sell off as he saw fit, were as good as it got—in the last row on the Club Level, fifty feet from the broadcast booths, shaded from the sun and occasional drizzle, mere steps from the closest bar.
He looked down at the sun-drenched field, warm and windless at the moment, a half hour to go until game time. Five minutes ago, the band Train had sung “Save Me, San Francisco” and now attendants were clearing the bandstand from the infield. Some of the players were still doing wind sprints or long toss out in left field.
Soon his son Vincent (impossibly, twenty-six years old and playing hooky from his job at Facebook) would return carrying two beers, a couple of bratwurst, and an order of garlic fries.
Hardy dabbed at his eye and took a breath against a wash of emotion. By all rights, he knew he shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be alive at all. About a year before, he’d taken two bullets—one to his chest that had bounced off a rib that deflected it away from his heart, and one superficially to the side of his head—bloody but not serious.
These last couple of bullet wounds made it four in his lifetime, surely more than the average allotted number for a mostly sedentary sixty-something lawyer, albeit a former Marine whose first experience of getting shot, in the shoulder, had come while he was pulling a guy who would become his brother-in-law out from under enemy fire in Vietnam.
But still . . .
• • •
TROGLODYTE THAT HE was, Hardy had completely turned off his cell phone nearly an hour earlier, as soon as the Opening Day festivities and announcements had begun.
Vincent, who could probably survive without air for longer than he could live if he were not connected to the cloud or the World Wide Web or whatever, for the first four innings kept up a steady and knowledgeable patter with his father about the game, his job, his girlfriend Jennifer, and the general state of his physical and mental health—all good.
At the same time, his thumbs never seemed to stop tapping the face of his iPhone.
Finally, with the Giants coming up in the bottom of the fourth, Hardy could stand it no more. “Who are you talking to all this time?”
“Sure. A little.”
“I thought you were taking the day off.”
“But you’re also working?”
“Dad. Really? Come on. That’s the great thing about my job. I don’t have to be there. I mean physically.”
“So what about here, where you are physically?”
“What about it? I’m having a great day with my old man, having some brewskis, watching the ball game. I’m totally here right now. Bottom of the fourth coming up, three to two, Padres. You’re thinking about cutting back to half-time for the summer. The Beck’s had two offers to change firms and turned them both down. Mom’s joined a women’s hiking club and you think they’re pushing it too hard. But if you want, I can go dark.”
“But you’d prefer it?”
“No,” Hardy lied. In fact, he would have preferred it, but far more important to him was that he didn’t alienate his son, to whom this was the norm, and who was, after all, living in the world in which he’d been raised. “I just need to get used to it. Multitasking in the modern age.”
“But you already are. Here we are, watching the game, you and me catching up on the home stuff, enjoying our beer. I’d call that multitasking, too. Wouldn’t you?” He looked down at his phone and chuckled.
“What?” Hardy asked.
“Just a text from Ron.” His roommate.
“You really want to know?”
“Okay. Why’d the cowboy buy a dachshund?”
“I give up. Why?”
“He wanted to get a long little doggie.”
Hardy’s lips twitched up slightly. “Good one,” he said, though not, he thought, necessarily worth the interruption.
Like so much of the rest of it.
But continuing to push the conversation in that vein, he knew, was not going to be a fruitful line of discussion. He was just an old fart, unfamiliar and—it seemed suddenly, only in the past couple of years—slightly uncomfortable with the way so many of the young people he knew were living.
He was the one who had to get over it, change with the times, go with the flow. “Hey,” he said, getting to his feet, “I’m on a mission for another beer. You want one?”
Vincent’s thumbs were back flying over his phone’s screen; looking up for the briefest of instants, he nodded absently. “Sounds great.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent book with familiar characters and a story that’s interesting. It’s light enough that you can pick it up and get right back into the story. I love the continuation of characters from book to book. They are like old friends
We have come to expect nothing but the best from this author, and lucky for us he always delivers. However, his books should come with a warning: once you start reading his novels be prepared to lose sleep turning page after page long into the night.
I can never get enough Dismas Hardy.
Quick book to read and interesting to the end.
Once again Dismas Hardy finds he has accepted a client for whom the pressure to get her released conflicts with endangering his family and marriage.
He continues the Dismal Hardy series with a intriguing twist in this one. I highly recommend it and so look forward to the next one.
Not his best.
Poison is the 17th entry in John Lescroart's long running Dismas Hardy series. A former client of Dismas has been charged with murder. Her employer has been poisoned - and she stands to benefit from the will. But, there are a myriad of other suspects. It's a family business and any of the man's relatives had an opportunity to kill him. And as Dismas digs into their lives, looking to clear his client, he discovers they all have secrets - and motives. I've always enjoyed Dismas as a lead character - he's intelligent, cagey and driven to find answers. The supporting cast has always included now retired SFPD Lieutenant Abe Glitsky. They play well off of each other, with differing personalities and styles, but with an eye on the prize - catching the guilty. (Glitsky has a few novels where he is the lead character.) PI Wyatt Hunt is also a fave supporting player of mine. The murder method in Poison was unusual and clever. Dismas's sussing out of the murderer was just as clever. The whodunit is somewhat revealed before the final aha, but the path to those final answers was enjoyable and entertaining. I enjoyed the return to Hardy's roots - murder, defense and the courtroom. Some of the previous entries became too convoluted and a bit far fetched for my taste. Lescroart has moved the series along in real time, with the players aging and evolving. The Hardy family life has figured into the plots over the years. Dismas is now looking at making a change as well and has been contemplating retirement. I will be curious to see where Lescroart takes him in the next book. Although Posion is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. I chose to listen to Poison. The reader was Jacques Roy - a narrator I've quite enjoyed in other books. He has a calm, quiet voice that suits the character of Dismas. His speaking is well paced, well modulated and easy to understand with a slight gravelly tone. That measured pace draws the listener into the story.
Fascinating story line with the same great characters we,vex come to know & love. As usual, we’re left anxious for another!
Sub par Lescroart entry in the Dismas Hardy series. I had a problem with the incomplete character arc of a policeman, along with the many red herrings that were thrown in to try to sway you into thinking you hadn't solved the mystery a third of the way in. Unrealistic decisions made by core characters were disappointing. One of my least favorite Lescroart books, more like one and a half stars.
Retirement Doesn't Stop This Detective! John Lescroart’s new book Poison is a well crafted gem. Although this is my first exposure to this series, Poison works just as well as a stand-alone novel. Lescroart’s exquisite character development made me feel like an old friend of attorney Dismas Hardy. The author’s knowledge of the criminal justice system is obvious and enjoyable as he chronicles the back and forth, give and take among key players in the midst of a murder case. The interaction among the DA’s office, the Homicide Department, and the Court is richly developed and characterizes both friendship and friendly competition. It is evident that they each reconcile the pressures of their jobs without losing their overarching commitment to justice. The intrigue builds as the patriarch of the family business is murdered, and with all of the adult children are heirs as well as executives of the company, it really is a “whodunnit”! Everybody loves Daddy, but some seem to be getting favorable treatment. Throw in a life insurance policy and some missing cash from the business (Which Lescroart does somehow without cliche), and the fun begins! Most enjoyable is that Lescroart takes the time to create the scene for the reader. Set in San Francisco, the author describes each San Francisco neighborhood with the familiarity a native; he truly made me think that each character actually resided in their respective neighborhoods. Even neighboring Silicon Valley gets this same wonderful treatment as a bit of high tech entrepreneurship also factors in. The result is a fast paced riveting page turner where you feel you are at the center of the action because you KNOW these people and the environment in which they live and thrive. With the added palpable fear of a murderer still on the loose, Lescroart had me feverishly racing with all the principals to the finish line. 4.5 stars
How in the world is it that I have never read a novel by John Lescroart? Poison, the 17th book in the Dismas Hardy series was an unbelievable ride! The series, which rotates around attorney Hardy, is a legal thriller by name but is so much more. I had to catch up with many characters in the series through this single book, and managed, as well as thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I do think it would be beneficial to start at the beginning and work your way through them in order. There were many references throughout the story that I imagine were probably parts of previous books, and while it didn’t ruddy the reading experience, and even gave me glimpses into some of the past stories that may be of interest, it almost made me feel like I was reading a brief spoiler of what may be to come if I go back and read the earlier books in the series. Dismas Hardy has had a long run of things and is considering slowing down. He has been shot on a previous cases and is getting up in age. Unfortunately for him, an old client has been arrested on suspicion of murder, and he feels an obligation to take on her case, against his better judgement. He soon finds himself in the midst of a dangerous game of cat and mouse, while trying to prove his client’s innocence. Abby Jarvis, a bookkeeper who has a history of manslaughter has been picked up under suspicion of killing her boss Grant Carver, a well known, and well off business man. Upon looking into the murder, investigators found Abby had been skimming money from the business, putting her as the primary suspect. In addition to following the legal aspect of the case, the book closely follows the homicide detectives as they knock on doors and try to solve the case. It had a real Law and Order feel with so many perspectives at play and I found myself pouring through the pages completely immersed in the family secrets, investigative research, unexpected twists, courtroom drama and web of lies. I really connected to Hardy and how invested he became in his case. I am so looking forward to starting at the beginning of his journey and devouring all the books in this series. A high 5 star rating for John Lescroart!
Getting shot ain't a walk in the park; and the last time it happened to defense attorney Dismas Hardy, two bullets nearly cost him his life. So now - a year later - he's still recovering and seriously contemplating at least a partial retirement. But everyone knows what happens to best-laid plans - and hopefully for better, not worse, he finds himself trying to defend former client Abby Jarvis. Turns out she's been charged with the murder of her boss, a highly successful owner of a closely held family business. Abby was the man's bookkeeper, hired not long after she got out of jail (a shorter-than-expected stint thanks to Dismas' defense). This time, it's claimed that she was embezzling substantial funds from the company; in part because of her prior record, the police believe her boss caught her in the act and she retaliated by putting a deadly poison in his ever-present tea. The company will continue under the leadership of the "G Team" - owner Grant Wagner's children, whose names all begin with that letter. But as the investigation proceeds, aided by Dismas' loyal private investigator, Wyatt Hunt, it comes to light that relationships among the dead guy's kids may be less than harmonious. In fact, it can be argued that each of them has reason to get rid of daddy dearest. But the question is, did one of them do the deed? And can Dismas and Wyatt get to the truth before someone else gets hurt (perhaps even Dismas or his grown son, Vincent, who has ties to at least a couple of the suspects)? I do love this character - this is his 17th appearance - what's not to like about a guy who, when it comes to technology calls himself an "old fart?" That he reads books by another of my favorite authors, C.J. Box, endears him to me even more. And while he may be trying to wind down, he's still "got it" in my book - with the action constant from beginning to end. I won't say that the whodunit came as a big surprise - in fact, I guessed it fairly early on - but that didn't diminish my enjoyment a whit. It's a terrific book, and I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.