by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of Dante’s Poison at the end of this review.
A rare genetic disease has cost psychiatrist Mark Angelotti most of his eyesight within the last two years, and while he has adapted, he definitely has not accepted his fate. A trial for an experimental drug offers the slim chance of hope to regain his vision, and Mark’s not above lying to doctors concerning his mental state if that means getting accepted into the program. Mark still has considerable psychological damage and guilt from the selfish and arrogant act that led to his first son’s death. Mark’s shame has prevented him from being able to commit to new relationships with either another woman or his own son. Feeling undeserving and incapable, Mark believes that regaining his sight is the only thing that would allow him to be a good father to the remaining son he barely knows, but fully loves.
Whatever personal failings he has, Mark is still an adept psychiatrist and so he is called in to testify for attorney, Hallie Sanchez, regarding the unreliability of witnesses. Hallie’s former boss Jane Barrett has been arrested for murdering her lover Rory Gallagher, an investigative reporter who was believed to have died from natural death, but now has been found to have been poisoned. That the antipsychotic drug happened to have been the same in which Jane litigated by representing the drug company in a liability case company puts her in the hot seat. Mark’s interviews with Jane has him certain that she is hiding more than she is telling, but a violent attack that leaves Hallie in the hospital becomes more of a priority as Mark feels enraged, guilty, and pro-vigilante.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of these novels by Raimondo is how she so fully explores the world of the blind in the twenty-first century. Telephone apps translate images, printers instantly convert printed words into Braille, and computer technologies make them completely accessible to the vision impaired. Also impressive is that the narration is entirely first person from Mark’s point of view, meaning that descriptions must come either from his other senses or from his memory. He has not taken to his disability nobly, as he has an ample supply of sarcastic and acerbic comebacks at the ready when the too solicitous or too condescending attempt to aid him.
Mark is not always an easy character to like, but while blindness has not made him perfect it has made him more willing to attempt to be a better person. Humorous dialogue, dry wit, and Mark’s razor-sharp tongue make this a very enjoyable follow-up to its strong debut, Dante’s Wood, both featuring this unique hero.
To enter to win a copy of Dante’s Poison, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dante,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 24, 2014.
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