cover image The Poison Artist

The Poison Artist

Jonathan Moore, read by Luke Daniels. HighBridge Audio, , unabridged, 8 CDs, 10 hrs., $34.99 ISBN 978-1-62231-935-0

Can a novel be too noir? That’s the question Moore’s disturbing thriller raises. His hapless protagonist, Dr. Caleb Maddox, is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain when he meets the mystical, absinthe-sipping femme fatale Emmeline and winds up the main suspect in a serial-murder investigation. His obsession with Emmeline drags him deeper into the murders and even entwines his best pal, Henry Newcomb, the city’s medical examiner. Reader Daniels has the perfect voice for representing men in conflict: confident and mildly aggressive in dealing with problems, but still showing a hint of vulnerability. Caleb, however, is an unusual case in that he’s harboring significant secrets. Following the author’s example, Daniels uses a what-you-hear-is-what-you-get approach, ignoring what lies beneath the surface to present a noir hero on an emotional slide into serious trouble, shunting aside loved ones, friends, and career in his quest for the elusive Emmeline. A Houghton Mifflin Harcourt hardcover. (Jan.)