In Poison Makers, as in Things In Ditches, Jimmy Olsen once again turns the traditional mystery on its head and shakes out stories of diplomats run amuck, deadly Cuban lovers, Caribbean voodoo and New York City car chases. Not a drug dealer, terrorist or serial killer in sight, but a protagonist, Edgar Espinosa-Jones (EJ), a reader can root for. A story that can be dark, but with uncontrived thrills that provoke both laughter and apprehension. Characters appear from the depth of Haitian Vodoun and Catholic Santo Domingo, and are little different from those who live next door to us, even if some are zombies.
EJ accepts an assignment from his enigmatic mentor Garrett Yancy to investigate the seemly innocent death of U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Adam Quist. His first job is to interview one of the Ambassador’s daughters at a secret rendezvous in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where he is drawn to her by an uncanny intensity as they travel dark streets toward a forbidden voodoo ceremony. Soon after, EJ is in terror for his life, running and hiding until he can find nowhere safe and is forced to make his last stand. Live or die.
Poison Makers is anything but the usual mystery. Set in the turbulent 1970s, the Caribbean seethes with political intrigue, revolutionaries, superstition, violence and EJ’s own tangled love affairs. With the help of his best friend, a crooked Dominican cop, EJ’s split nationality (Dominican/American) and quirky view of life combine to solve the mysteries at whatever cost.
|Publisher:||Hoffman House Press, LLC|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||777 KB|
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Poison Makers is unlike any mystery that I have read, and I have read a few in my time! I received a free print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I found myself enthralled within the first few lines of the book as the perpetrators carried out their plot to kill the Ambassador using voodoo, and followed with bated breath as Olsen guided me through dark back alleys and bustling streets to give me a glimpse of a rich and mysterious culture as the brilliant and thrilling plot unfolded. The characters are as fascinating as the setting. For readers who are familiar with the culture, it is apparent that Olsen is drawing from personal experience to create characters that match the setting. Olivia is anything but the stereotypical daughter who suspects that her father has been murdered. She is worldly, calculating, articulate, and enigmatic. EJ is not what most people might consider "the guy next door;" however, he is pretty incorruptible given his line of work and a culture in which reciprocity is prevalent. While the setting and the characters were impeccably written, what really sold me on the book was the fact that I was unable to predict the ending. I had an idea of who the guilty party was, but Olsen kept me second-guessing myself until the very end; which, in my humble opinion, is the mark of an outstanding mystery author. Filled with insights about a culture that believes in curses and zombies, corruption, and suspense, Poison Makers is not a conventional mystery. If you are looking for an unconventional mystery that will transport you to a place that you have never been without leaving the comfort of your home, Poison Makers is the book for you.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when we do practice to deceive.” “Poison Makers” by Jimmy Olsen (Hoffman Press) is indeed a tangled web of deceit spun by an elusive, deadly venom dispensing spider that remains unsuspected until close to the end. Yet the spider too is a victim and of a vice that is truly vile. The novel, set in1972, centres on the Dominican Republic and Haiti; but there are also scenes in New York City and the Arlington National Cemetery. At its heart is the cult of voodoo. The reader’s attention is caught in the prologue as Adam Quist, United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, prior to that Ambassador to Haiti, is murdered; poisoned as he naps in his residence, by Voodoo bokors (priests). The why is not clear. The spirits have demanded it. The bokors are obeying the spirits’ word: that’s it. The doctor pronounces heart attack which is accepted by all but one. The exception is the ambassador’s younger daughter, nineteen year old Olivia Quist. Olivia believes her father was murdered. But she has no concrete reason why, let alone how, it was done. Still, she asks questions and, as a result, in a round about way, sometime private investigator Edgar Espinosa Jones, is asked to take a look. Jones, is an American Citizen but of mixed blood. His father is a Catholic Dominican Republic Tobacco Farmer; his Mother is from Minnesota and of Lutheran conviction. Jones, generally known as EJ, might be described as a rich blend of both. Jones has a large upstairs apartment in Santo Domingo. His elderly landlords live below. They don’t approve of Jones but the rent is needed. He is looked after, sort of, by a somewhat eccentric maid who has four children to four different men, none of them Jones. Jones run’s Santa Domingo’s only diving business but it isn’t successful – the locals are frightened of sharks – hence the detective work. He also takes “loans” from his father who wants him to grow tobacco. To this Jones is averse. Jones has four younger sisters, none of them averse to partying unannounced in his pad. He also has a beautiful Cuban refugee girlfriend, Sonja, a Castro hater; something of an enigma as well. If there is one thing that E.J has not got it is a Sherlock Holmes mind. Apart from several terrifying life threatening incidents and a general ruffling of official feathers, his enquiry goes nowhere. Only on being led by the nose does he finally, not so much stumble, as fall face flat on the unexpected, disturbing truth. The plot is not fast paced but neither is it slow; rather it is like an oil spill on water, it spreads outwards and it absorbs. At times one feels that credibility is perhaps being stretched, but Mr. Olsen’s writing, again like oil on water, is fluid smooth and could stretch credibility to the moon. Always, in the background are the thud of the drums and the threat of the cult of voodoo. The characters are well drawn; made up of flamboyant yet fatalistic Latin Americans contrasted with their more conservative, though not necessarily quiet or dull, U.S.A. cousins. Standing out above all is young Olivia Quist; clearly a girl with a mind of her own. As for the imagery; for me it is the imagery that makes this book, generating a vivid picture, a richly embroidered tapestry of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, particularly their capital cities, and the Latin American way of life. The poverty and the squalor, the wealth and the grandeur, the glorious architecture and the broken down festering slums, the
Poison Makers by Jimmy Olsen I agreed to read and review this book as I had just read his other works about diving around the islands. I have read other books about voodoo in the islands so am kind of familiar but not first hand knowledge. This book described the missing knowledge that made the book not only interesting but a new learning experience. Was a bit of diving included but I wished there had been more. EJ is summoned to help find out about Adam Quists death. He is an ambassador for the US. Love how he not only seeks advice and information from the family but others on the islands. Love all the hidden places-what a treasure the island holds. I can't imagine a party like the one his sisters and mother have in regards to my family-I was laughing so hard when he found out. The enormity of the poor country hit me when his housekeeper rents a set of teeth for the party as she is the server. Loved hearing of the Arlington Cemetery as my son was on duty there for a while. Places in NY were cool to read about as I also was in the city in the 1970's. Love how he follows the clues to the murder mystery and gets in so deep as to what it is all really turning out to be. Not sure I believe in the life the people were turned into but it did made for a good read. Very detailed descriptions I felt like I was there with them on their journey.
Voodoo is alive and well in the Caribbean during the 70s. Edgar Espinosa-Jones, half American, half Dominican may not be if his stalkers have their way. EJ is investigating the mysterious death of the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, for his benefactor, an ailing, eccentric, wealthy and powerful man who says voodoo may be involved. A non-believer, EJ is skeptical, but as he digs deeper, is poisoned, and threatened by gunpoint, his investigation takes him stateside to the Ambassador’s funeral at Arlington, to Haiti, New York and back again to have the body of the Ambassador exhumed. He is approached by the nineteen year-old daughter of the ambassador, a product of a strained and distant family who must always keep up the public persona. Poised and confident far beyond her years one moment, and a simple teen struggling to make sense of her father’s death the next, Olivia believes her father was murdered and is determined to get to the truth with EJ’s help. Steeped in superstition, violence and the twists and turns of corrupt government officials, Poison Makers by Jimmy Olsen is a dark journey into a world where zombies may actually exist. Jimmy Olsen takes us into a world where voodoo rules, its practitioners know the art of concocting untraceable poisons, and danger could be lurking right around the corner where you least suspect it. You won’t find a constant fast pace here, but you will find a gritty look into the darker side of life as seen through the quirky eyes of EJ, an often dry and sarcastic man who craves walking on the wild side of life. I almost felt I was actually taken back in time, to the 1970s, when airport security was more relaxed, Vietnam was a fresh nightmare, and the game of politics was often a life or death issue. Mr. Olsen fills his work with detailed descriptions, spurts of fast-paced intrigue and a colorful and intriguing dialogue between characters. He paid careful attention to developing even the most inconsequential of characters, because, who knows, perhaps they’ll be needed at the end! I enjoyed this change of pace to many writing styles today, and recommend this to anyone looking for an off the beaten-path journey to the Caribbean and back! A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.
I enjoyed the flow of this book. The characters and plot line were interesting. This is the second ebook by this author I have read and I hope to find others. The descriptions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti would be a nice leisure reading complement to anyone vacationing there.