Poisoned Pen, July 2004, 24.95, 288 pp.
At the Southwest Book Publisher's Expose, Gloriana Alden-Taylor eats salad when the owner-publisher of Patriot's Blood Press starts to feel chest pains. She keels over, foams at the mouth and shortly dies. An autopsy reveals she was poisoned with hemlock sprinkled on her salad; the police arrest Gloriana's employee, Pima Indian Owen Sisiwan for the crime. Earlier that day, group of conference attendees led by Sisiwan went on a field trip where the poisonous plant grew.
Former police officer Lena Jones opened up her own agency after she was wounded on the job and her employee Johnny is Owen's cousin. She knows Owen could never kill a seventy-something year old woman even if she was a racist who treated Owen like a second-class citizen. Her publishing house published books that would appeal to the Aryan nation and they made a lot of money that she used to fix up the house she loved. Lena is determined to find out which of the many people who had a motive to kill Gloriana did the deed.
The protagonist is a person who keeps people at a distance because of the abuses she suffered in foster care, but in spite of the traumas she experienced, Lena is a determined woman who will go the extra mile to see that justice is served. The villainess of DESSERT SHADOW has so many enemies including her employees, her own family and the authors she could not care less about; it is impossible to figure out who the perpetrator is.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner