St. Martin’s, Nov 2008, $24.95
Besides running her restaurants, Jane Lawless is also working on her father Ray’s campaign for governor and helping her friends; she and her lover Kenzine wish she had more time for them. As a defense attorney Ray defended Corey Hodge against a rape charge; he arranged a plea bargain that got the man out of prison. Ray’s opponent is using that case and others defended by Jane’s dad as making the streets unsafe.
Cory volunteers to work at the campaign’s headquarters; there he meets another volunteer Charity Miller, who fears her former fiancé Gabriel Kean. The law firm of Lawless, Kaplan and Piper got Kean off on a technicality in the beating of Minister Christopher Cornish. When Charity is murdered by someone using the same M.O. that led to Corey’s conviction, the police focus on him though other suspects including Kean exist. Cory’s aunt asks Jane to prove his innocence. She reluctantly agrees though an inquiry takes more time away from Kenzine who finally leaves while her former lover Julia tries to win back her heart.
The Jane Lawless mysteries are some of the consistently best amateur sleuth tales and SWEET POISON confirms that belief. The whodunit is fabulous as there are many suspects besides Corey for Jane to look at. Her attitude remains top notch demanding people to accept her as is while actively campaigning for her dad; Ray shows his strength of character too as he wants her election help and not a bush league sham limited to gays and lesbians. With the Willie Horton election effect adding to a strong election year intrigue, fans will enjoy Ellen Hart’s latest timely winner.