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Poisoned Justice: Origins
~ A Riley the Exterminator Mystery ~
by Jeffrey Alan Lockwood
What if an exterminator learns
that the worst pests have two legs?
When an activist ecology professor is found dead in his hotel room, the police chalk it up
to natural causes, but his wealthy and fiery widow is convinced it's foul play. She needs
someone who can operate behind the scenes—in the dark cracks and gritty crevices of
San Francisco. Riley the exterminator fits the bill.
Can Riley rid San Francisco of its most deadly vermin?
Riley's career as a police detective was cut short when do-gooders saw him beat information out
of a child kidnapper. Now running his father's pest control business, Riley pursues two-legged
vermin on the side. Turned out an ex-con can be licensed as an exterminator but not a private eye.
Winged ants and dead flies at the death scene suggest something's amiss to a man who knows insects.
The dead professor's students, each harboring a secret, reveal that their environmentalist mentor
had plans to take down the pesticide industry. But he needed cash for the operation—and that
put him on a collision course with a most unusual drug lord.
When Riley's investigation unexpectedly reveals that the drugs that poisoned his own brother might be
connected to the professor's death, extermination is in order. But he'll need to join forces with an
intoxicating South African beauty—a reluctant ally, armed with lethal poison.
Praise for Poisoned Justice from Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis of Netflix's hit drama Longmire
If you read only one entomological mystery this year . . . I'm not kidding.
CV Riley is one part Sam Spade and one part Orkin Man and in Poisoned Justice, he makes
things interesting for his adversaries—be they eight, six, or two-legged.
Murder walks on two legs. Justice moves on six.
Ex-cop turned pest control businessman, Riley unravels the death of an ecology professor with the help of dead flies and winged ants. Along the way, he accumulates a staff including an alternate lifestyle secretary, a thoughtful young man who struggles with fumigating moles, pigeons, and mice, and a dude raised in the projects who views killing rats and roaches as his contribution to the greater good.
A complex man, Riley is single, intolerant of Orkin-type exterminators, juggles appointments, offers empathy but not closeness to staff, and holds faithful to his self-assumed mission to support his mother and brother—all the while pursuing two-legged vermin in the dark, gritty cracks of San Francisco.
"Growing plants in San Francisco was easy; the hard part was deciding what to yank up to keep a garden from becoming a jungle . . . it's what you don't let grow that makes a garden."
~ Nancy Hartney, Author
Jeffrey Lockwood is a most unusual fellow. He grew up in New Mexico and spent youthful afternoons
enchanted by feeding grasshoppers to black widows in his backyard. This might account for both his
scientific and literary affinities.
He earned a doctorate in entomology from Louisiana State University and worked for fifteen years as
an insect ecologist at the University of Wyoming. He became a world-renowned assassin, developing a
method for efficiently killing billions of insects (mostly pests but there's always the innocent
bystander during a hit). This contact with death drew him into questions of justice, violence, and evil.
His career metamorphosed into an appointment in the department of philosophy and the program in creative
writing at UW. Unable to escape his childhood, he's written several award-winning books about the
devastation of the West by locust swarms, the use of insects to wage biological warfare, and the terror
humans experience when six-legged creatures invade their lives.
Pondering the dark side of humanity led him to the realm of the murder mystery. These days, he explores
how the anti-hero of crime noir sheds existentialist light on the human condition: In the end, there are
no excuses—we are ultimately responsible for our actions.
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