Monday, January 28, 2008

Poison Pen-Sheila Lowe

Poison Pen
Sheila Lowe
Obsidian, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223692

She is a graphologist forensic handwriting expert whose clients range from business people who want to check out job applicants to police who use Claudia Rose as an additional tool in their crime investigations. Both divergent groups agree she is always on the money with her assessments.

Claudia and her friend Kelly attend the funeral of their childhood friend Hollywood publicist Lindsey Alexander, who allegedly committed suicide leaving behind an explanatory note written in block letters. Her business manager Ivan does not believe Lindsey killed herself and hires Claudia to prove it. The handwriting is suspicious since Lindsey always wrote in cursive not print although the deceased’s sleazy brother gives Claudia photos to prove otherwise as Lindsey printed on them. The pictures do make it quite clear that Lindsey was a victim of child sexual abuse. Ivan is going to makes an out of town trip and finds some incendiary evidence amidst Lindsey’s belongings. He asks Claudia to come over to his house to look at them; she does, but when she arrives she find him lying dead. She takes the flash drive lying under him home to find it contains a spread sheet of high profiles people into kink. Claudia learns Lindsey was blackmailing them so now has a motive for homicide, but whom. Soon someone shoots at her and her house is broken into and is somewhat trashed. Obviously an unknown adversary wants the case dropped.

Claudia is a strong willed independent person who persists even while skeptics scoff at her profession as being voodoo forensics. The romance between her and the lead detective adds a personalized dimension to the story line without intruding on the inquiry. Among Lindsey’s clients are DC and California politicians and Hollywood superstars with the power and money to hire a pro to make it look like a suicide, but who remains just out of reach.

Harriet Klausner