“Lescroart never ceases to amaze his fans. The wit, the timing, the dialogue—everything combines to give this author yet another bestseller and provide readers with a fast-paced, memorable thriller.” —Suspense Magazine
“The narrative flows effortlessly and includes a Perry Mason–worthy moment when Hardy manifests a bit of courtroom magic. Lescroart is a perfect choice for readers who enjoy great ensemble casts.” —Booklist
In John Lescroart’s latest thriller, San Francisco attorney Dismas Hardy is called upon to investigate the murder of a wealthy man whose heirs are all potential suspects.
Dismas Hardy is looking forward to easing into retirement and reconnecting with his family after recovering from two glancing gunshot wounds courtesy of a recent client. But this plan is cut short when, against his wife’s wishes, he is pulled back into the courtroom by the murder of Grant Wagner, the steely owner of a successful family business. 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 and Dismas wants to believe her.
As he prepares for trial, Dismas probes deeply into the Wagner clan’s history, discovering dark secrets, jealous siblings, gold-digging girlfriends, startling betrayals, and menacing blackmailers. Suspense builds as the trial date looms, and the closer Dismas gets to the Wagners, the clearer it becomes that he has a large target painted on his back.
With John Lescroart’s razor-sharp dialogue, intricate plotting and relentless pacing, Poison is a nail-biter that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Poison 1 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.”
John Lescroart is the author of over twenty-eight novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Ophelia Cut, The Keeper, The Fall, and Fatal. His books have sold more than ten-million copies and have been translated into twenty-two languages. He lives in Northern California.
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