The Poison of War

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

Solving two murders with old technology in the desert southwest is not easy. The native people in this area have lived here for centuries. There were no borders that defined their nation until recently. Jennifer pulls together the problem of drug running across native ancestral lands with no regard for the culture and the people who live there.

Frank Silva is a half-breed who is charged with protecting the land and solving a double murder. 

A defunct “Indian Casino” is a beacon for the transfer of illegal drugs. The drug runners are ruthless.
In a land of cacti and wildflowers where does the detective begin? Jennifer pulls the narrative together in a very exciting way. Even footprints do not show up in this desolate landscape. And yet the crime has to be solved. 

The result is a masterfully devised series of steps taken to finally find the killer. The narrative is fast-moving and never drags. It is a mystery lovers' handbook for solving crime in the most desolate areas in the Southwest United States. 

We received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can heartily recommend.
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This short story tells the story of two murders that occur on a reservation in Arizona, USA. The cast list is small and so it's clear that one of the few people met or referenced has committed the deed. 

The author skillfully reveals the mystery in an unembellished manner.   Resulting in the feeling that I knew the people, their environment and cared about their concerns.   The turn of phrases were apt, bareboned and evocative.

I enjoyed the restrained, dogged police work to uncover alibis and motivations. And whilst it was a short story I felt it covered everything;  it has the depth and breadth of a full length novel.   

The Poison of War is as much about the murders,  as it is about reservation life and the threat of Mexican cartels.  The impact of change, circumstance, and this age of distractions and competing priorities are starkly shown on the Tohono O'odham Nation way of life.


My thanks to Netgalley and Presna Press for providing a copy post publication date in return for a candid review.
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The Poison of War opens on two drug traffickers murdered with poisoned arrows. The search for the killer seems erratic and leaves you with an unsatisfying ending. Overall, so much more could have been done with this if it didn't feel so rushed and the author took the time to create more well rounded characters. I had a hard time keeping everyone straight because there was little difference to the characters.
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The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received an advanced copy of The Poison of War.
It had some interesting stories to tell but none were the actual story I got to read. It is a short read so I kept with it.
The book opens with the crime scene of two murdered drug traffickers on the Tohono O’odham lands near the Mexican boarder.
What follows is a disjointed search for the killer. Some people are questioned each detective has his own pet suspect. Then there's a jolt and it's someone entirely different.
None of the characters were fleshed out and felt quite 2 dimensional, the political unrest was used in the background but never really delved into.
I felt like this was the beginnings of the fleshing out of a story rather than a complete novel in itself.
A story of the 6 months prior to the murders or the 6 months right after the end of the book seem like they would have held much more interesting and meaningful stories.


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Two killings near the border where Frank and Arturo have to break the silence surrounding the Indian Reservation to understand what provoked this crime and just who is being protected.
An interesting style by Jennifer Leeper with the crime being front and centre while we have back stories concerning the losing of ones culture, dispossession, tradition, and a gap fermenting between young and old.
Well written novella. 
An independent review  for NetGalley and Pensa Press
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This is why I love the opportunity of receiving an ARC, advanced reading copy in general and NetGalley in particular.
It elevates your reading from tried and tested authors, leaving aside briefly the comfortable books  to the more challenging. The familiar genres to the most fanciable and leaving writing of similar styles to embrace new cultures and customs.
I was intrigued to look at the lack of border security between the USA and Mexico. How an ancient people viewed their lands when an artificial boundary was created. How traditional ways may resurface to deal with a contemporary problems of drug trafficking.
Two local detectives are assigned to a case then two smugglers from a Mexican cartel are killed close to the border. It has all the hallmarks of a ritual killing to send a message; but what has brought matters to such a confrontation and can the cops be accepted among their own to unravel the truth and head off potential border disputes at the pass.
I loved this cultural police procedural where customs and traditions propelled the characters as much as motive and where greed is not an issue.
The detectives with their own roots and common ancestors blurring their own motivation at times was a difficult path for the author to plot as much as for the cops to follow. I loved the tension; the submission to the law. I loved the sense of values and the spoiled future of these proud  indigenous people.
Although just a novella it is a rich tapestry of language, values and a broken community. I enjoyed spending time in this milieu and unlike some deeper moral novels found it hard to condemn or feel sympathy for the initial murdered men.
Seek out this author and try to read this book for yourself. You will be pleased you made the effort.
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The Poison of War by Jennifer Leeper is a short but excellent book about the discovery of  the bodies of 2 Mexican drug smugglers on an Native American reservation on the Mexican border.  As  a pair of local detectives investigate the case the lives, culture  and history of the Tohono O'odham people all play apart in a very accomplished piece of writing. The setting is quite unique and is drawn with flair by Ms Leeper, the few people living the traditional way and trying to preserve their culture, the young people angry at the incursion of the drug cartels while seeing the border controls being beefed up while relatives live on the other side, all come alive. This reminded me very much of  Cormac McCarthy's books, a great story with strong characters and a great sense of place. I'll certainly be looking out for more books by Jennifer Leeper.

Big thanks to Jennifer Leeper, Prensa Press and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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