St. Martin's Griffin
How do you prove that you are the best poisoner? Simple, poison the person in that position with a potion that is not easily recognizable, maybe your own personal concoction.
Francesca Giordano grew up in the notorious house of Rodrigo Borgia with her father as the chief poisoner. When her father is murdered, Francesca is obsessed with revenge. Who is responsible for his death? Her father's successor is in a dangerous position and Francesca knows that she is more qualified even if she is a woman in this male-dominated time period. She proves this by poisoning the poisoner and admits it. This gutsy move could have her condemned to death but instead she manages to become the poisoner. Who could be better qualified?
Poison is a tale of the Renaissance with the multiple problems in Italy from the expulsion of the Jewish people in Spain to the wide spread corruption within the Vatican and how the two interwove. Many of the Jews who came to Rome with nothing since their possessions were confiscated. Rome created a refugee camp that kept these people in a confined area regardless of their money.
Poison speaks of the history of Rome especially around the Vatican and how these two interacted as well as the physical aspects of the immense tunnel system within and under the buildings and how they were frequently utilized.
The character of Francesca and her involvement with the Borgias allows you to make your own judgments about the Borigas, especially Lucrezia in that her youth and naivety matures with her circumstances as being a pawn in this male world. Author Sara Poole lets the reader view these people through non-judgmental or prejudicial eyes with this notorious family.
My one criticism of this novel involved that one event near the end which involved a child that seemed too convenient and coincidental. However, the relationships with the glass maker and the pharmacist's wife in the Jewish ghetto were superbly written in visualizing the events, conditions, and even understanding the smells of the time period.
Poison is a superb first novel in this series by Sarah Poole representing the Renaissance and life in Italy. I love forward to reading the other novels in this series.