Monday, September 04, 2006

What Wine Goes With Poison?

Linda L. Richards expertly combines mystery, the sadness of life passing, and some very interesting details of two successful careers – that of a celebrity chef and an ethical stockbroker – in her third book about Madeline Carter, a broker based in Los Angeles.

Richards, who is the editor of the pioneering Internet literary journal called January Magazine, has made Carter a complicated but instantly recognizable person – a hard-edged woman who left her easygoing chef husband in New York 10 years ago, when she was 25. When she hears that he has killed himself, she decides to go to his funeral: they parted amicably, after all, and he was an important part of her early life.

But when Maddy learns that he died after taking poison in two very ill-matched dishes (duck a l'orange and beef Shiraz), she is certain that it wasn’t suicide – the man she knew would never have combined those foods. The local police, of course, don’t buy it, so Carter goes off on a dangerous private investigation.