Title: Poison by Galt Niederhoffer
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass’ two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland —a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly. First with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace.
With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute.
Poison by Galt Niederhoffer is an inventive domestic mystery about a woman who is being gaslighted by her husband.
At first glance, Cass and Ryan Connor have the perfect marriage. The couple relocated to a suburb of Seattle with Cass’s two children from her first marriage, seven year old Pete and ten year old Alice, along with their son, two year old Sam. The children adore Ryan, who is spontaneous and playful, but Cass finds these traits a bit annoying since he sometimes disrupts the kids’ routines. Ryan is the family’s main breadwinner but Cass also works outside the home as a college professor. Despite their outward happy appearance, their marriage has deep cracks that widen after Cass begins to suspect Ryan is having an affair.
Cass is an award winning journalist who sometimes yearns for the career she willingly gave up to raise her children after her marriage to Ryan. She is still strongly attracted to Ryan and even after she catches him in a lie, this never changes. Cass is stunned by the sudden changes in Ryan’s behavior but even in the aftermath of a shocking threat, she remains under his spell. As the tension mounts between them and her health rapidly deteriorates, Cass gradually begins to realize she has completely ignored rather unsavory aspects of Ryan’s personality.
As her marriage takes a dark turn, Cass becomes more isolated and rather helpless as she becomes a victim of both Ryan and the legal system. Her judgment is seriously skewed as she puts her trust in the wrong people then makes questionable decisions that endanger not only herself but her children. With her situation becoming increasingly dire, Cass finds herself in the crosshairs of a diabolical man who will do absolutely anything to win.
While the plot is unique, Poison is a slow-moving novel that quickly becomes bogged down in long passages of wordy narration that lacks much action or dialogue. Galt Niederhoffer brilliantly highlights societal issues regarding crimes against women and how they are often victimized as they attempt to seek justice. Readers will have to suspend disbelief as the novel wends its way to a somewhat dissatisfying and abrupt conclusion that does not completely wrap up all of the dangling threads.