It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the domestic thriller genre. Give me an unreliable narrator and an up-to-no-good husband and I am hooked. So, when #cjsreads decided to read Poison by Galt Niederhoffer, I was thrilled. It seemed like the exact type of book that would keep me up late into the night.
The novel surrounds a picturesque family and their suburban life. Cass and Ryan make up a newly blended family with their three children. However, Ryan has a dark side, one that keeps Cass looking over her shoulder, and when she confronts Ryan about his fidelity, Cass begins to wonder if her life is at stake. As tensions rise, Cass’s sanity is questioned and she begins to worry her children are at risk.
As I began my reading, one of the things that stood out the most for me was the style of Niederhoffer’s writing. I was drawn in immediately, almost as if I was connecting with old friends. The prose was familiar and inviting. It had me turning the pages.
One of the cleverest things about this novel was the use of the title and the ties to the plot; the jealous nature of Cass is poisoning her relationship and Cass believes that Ryan is literally poisoning her. I loved this play and exploration into literal and psychological poison. I felt captivated as I watched the story unfold. Is she actually crazy? Is she correct? Who do I believe?
I really like novels with strong characters and Poison fit this bill. Ryan was incredibly creepy and I found Cass to be very unreliable. I also loved how Niederhoffer constantly called into question the idea of the unreliable female and the doubt that those in the legal system have with women as the victim. I felt like this is extremely prevalent in today’s society and I found myself questioning my own judgments and assessment of Cass throughout my reading.
However, I did have a few issues with this novel towards the end. About 40% of the way into the novel, I did find parts of the novel beginning to drag quite a bit. The idea of the poison is brought to light very early in the novel and teased in the synopsis, so it was very clear that Cass believed she was being poisoned. However, this was constantly drilled home for the next 30% of the book. It felt very redundant. Also, although I loved the little twist in the end, the final resolution left me feeling as if it had come out of left field.
Regardless of this, I did enjoy the easy prose and the compelling plot enough to finish this book over the course of a few sittings. This novel really gave me a B.A Paris vibe and I feel like fans of this author will really enjoy Poison. Poison is published today! Be sure to add it to your TBR pile if you are a fan of the domestic genre!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, the author and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.
I mentioned this was a #cjsreads pick; want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of Poison? Keep reading to find out!
What Chandra Thought:
I loved the characterization of both Cass and Ryan. Told strictly through Cass’s POV, we go through the crazy with her. Is she actually just paranoid and causing this rift between her and her husband? How complicit is she in what is happening? These are the things Ryan’s character starts to make you think. And he is definitely written as a smooth operator type where at times you feel for him and other times you want to drop kick him.
A solid slow burn of a domestic thriller. It didn’t quite grab me as much as I wanted it to but it’s a good look inside the mind of a wife fighting for her life and her children.
What Jessica Thought:
Another domestic thriller! I love these within the thriller genre and I always have, so when I read the synopsis for POISON by Galt Niederhoffer I was ready to dive in. Much like my #CJSReads ladies, I’m a fan of the unreliable narrators.
We follow Cass and Ryan and their newly blended family – three kids and a cat. They are living in the suburbs in a home they’ve built together to reach that “Modern Family dream”. Not everything is as it seems though. Despite having a stable relationship and successful careers, there is a side to Ryan that is completely foreign to Cass. Enter the unreliable narrator – Cass believes her life might be in danger. Is she truly in danger or is she simply losing her mind?
Right off the bat, I loved the writing style. I love when the writing alone can keep me turning the pages – not to say that the plot itself wasn’t. This is definitely more of a slow build for a domestic thriller. This book is told strictly through Cass’ POV and helps build the unreliable narrator element. Since we don’t get to see the other side of the story from Ryan, we are reliant on the information we gather from Cass. Can we believe her or is simply crazy? The theme of poison is present throughout the novel. Not only is the relationship becoming toxic (is Ryan being unfaithful?) but Cass is under the impression that Ryan is literally poisoning her.
Cass was a great character – flawed in all the right ways to keep the reader on their toes. I will say that the novel felt like it was dragging a little bit in the middle and towards the end. The ending did have a big twist that I wasn’t expecting at all – it felt like it came out of nowhere!
Overall, if you want a domestic mystery then this one should definitely be on your list. The writing flowed effortlessly and the unreliable narrator will keep the reader on their toes!
I give this 3.5/5 stars!