Poison Pen: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery
by Sheila Lowe
Review by Gayle Surrette
Signet Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451223692
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Lindsey Alexander is dead, a suicide as far as the police are concerned, and there are few, if any, who'd shed a tear. So, when Ivan Novak insists on hiring Claudia Rose to prove Lindsey didn't write the suicide note; she's not sure she wants to do it. Claudia is a forensic handwriting expert, but Lindsey may once have been her friend but that was a long time ago. Feeling sorry for Ivan, she takes on the case. However, when Ivan is murdered and someone seems to be out to get Claudia, she finds herself in deeper than she planned.
Lowe does a great job of having Claudia present herself as a professional handwriting expert, handling the doubtful or scornful responses with openness and grace. The field is often misrepresented and this series may do a lot of bring it out of the new age "woo-woo" category and into recognized forensic science by having such a strong, articulate character. Claudia is also very much a professional, running her own business from her home. With the job she has, she has the opportunity to be independent and to check into mysteries and murders.
There's the start of a romance with a police detective, that may continue over the series. This also is a way for Claudia to get access to information and assistance that otherwise not be available to an individual. Since Claudia has clearance as an expert witness it gives her some credibility.
All in all the set up, the characters, and the setting pull together to make this a strong first book in a series. The mystery is first rate also. There are more than enough people who wanted Lindsey Alexander dead. As Claudia investigates she learns that there was more to Lindsey's life than she knew and while it doesn't excuse her behavior it does make it more understandable while still reprehensible. A strong beginning and I look forward to learning more about Claudia Rose, forensic handwriting expert.