The Poison Dart

Debbie Bradley Crime Mysteries

Fiction - Crime
414 Pages
Reviewed on 02/23/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The Poison Dart by Geri Dreiling is a crime novel in which journalist Debbie Bradley, who is known by her famed “Crime Beat Girl” moniker, investigates a drug overdose case involving the son of a prominent St. Louis family. As she digs into the lives impacted by the incident, she uncovers startling connections and finds herself entangled with a dangerous drug ring operating in her city. It's up to Debbie to piece it all together, and as this is done, the author sheds light on the very real heroin and fentanyl crisis gripping the Midwest, portraying the struggles of characters like J.R., who is ensnared by a ruthless cartel to produce the drugs or pay the ultimate price. Through her investigation, Bradley must balance the desire for truth and justice and the looming threat of familial destruction against a beast of a deadly operation that has no qualms about the crime and addiction their products cause.

Geri Dreiling's The Poison Dart is the second book in her Debbie Bradley Crime Mysteries series, the first being the acclaimed Crime Beat Girl. Both books read as standalones, but the series is so good that missing book one is really just robbing oneself. Dreiling's writing is exceptional, and while I felt like I knew Debbie going in, Dreiling's ability to flesh her and those around her out even more is a testament to her skill as a writer. There is a delicate balance that must be met when a plot revolves around addiction, and the author treads this carefully and with the compassion needed for the victims to really feel like victims. She keeps the human element of the human condition at the forefront, and it is part of what makes Dreiling so credible as a crime writer. This is an intelligently written, deeply immersive, raw, and completely engrossing book, and I am, hand over heart, a happy Debbie Bradley fanboy. Very highly recommended.

Delene Vrey

The Poison Dart by Geri Dreiling is a gripping mystery about the effects of drug trafficking in the Midwest. When Caleb, the son of affluent parents, overdoses in the company of his friends and Macie, everyone assumes that Macie gave him fentanyl-laced heroin. If only they knew her secret and why she did not even have a drink that night. Debbie Bradley, a crime reporter in St. Louis, hears of Caleb's overdose and thinks there might be a story about the drug crisis among the youth. As she is met with legal resistance, she also looks into a backup story about a sting operation in which the police have broken the supply chain of a Mexican drug cartel. In her investigation into the drug bust, Debbie encounters a Mexican once at the scene of the drug bust, and a second time when she finds him following her. He has spent his life trying to protect his wife and daughter while working for the cartel. Debbie helps him find legal aid to get him and his family placed in the witness protection program. During an incident at a cartel safe house, the leading players in both stories that Debbie is chasing come together with surprising twists and unforeseen results.

In The Poison Dart, Geri Dreiling takes a hard look at the impact of drugs and the drug trade on people from all economic backgrounds. The novel traces how addiction starts with a prescription that leads to heroin addiction, the danger of fentanyl-laced heroin, and the danger of doing drugs after going to rehab – a relevant topic in today's world. She also describes the lives of the illegal drug workers that the cartel uses to package their product, as well as those people who are trying to make a quick buck by turning a blind eye or transporting drugs with their usual cargo, and the cartel's swift treatment if they try to help the police. It is impressive to see how closely the different role players in the drug trade are intertwined with the addicts, the police, and other legal representatives. What I liked about the novel was that there was no erotica or foul language, and the story developed logically, with the characters being steered by ethical decisions.

Angelique Papayannopoulos

The Poison Dart by Geri Dreiling is the second novel in the Debbie Bradley Crime mystery series. The story follows journalist and podcaster Debbie Bradley, who has been assigned to investigate the overdose death of Caleb Webb, son of a prominent St. Louis real estate family. Following a major drug bust, the community is shaken by the deep drug crisis, in which addiction doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor. As Debbie explores deeper into the dark underbelly of the heroin and fentanyl world, she comes face to face with one of the most dangerous and ruthless drug cartels. As a resilient journalist, she takes all the risks necessary to uncover the truth and expose the dark world of drugs. Debbie is tangled up in a tale of addiction, lies, and brutality, and as the danger mounts, who can she trust?

Geri Dreiling has created an incredible, action-packed, realistic plot that will capture a reader's attention from the start. The Poison Dart presents a realistic and robust narrative that sheds light on the cruel and devastating consequences of drug addiction. As the story unfolds, the reader is engaged in the sense of danger and urgency. Readers are sympathetic to the characters affected by the drug trade, as well as those caught in the crossfire of criminal activities. With themes of resilience, courage, and perseverance, the author adds a deeply emotional and distressing dimension to her writing. Victims of drug addiction and the enslavement of drug mules in the clutches of the cartels are both humanitarian tragedies, vividly described throughout the novel. Some unexpected twists in this cliffhanger make it highly recommended for fans of suspense and mystery. A fantastic book.

Alma Boucher

The Poison Dart by Geri Dreiling is the second book in the Debbie Bradley Crime Mysteries. Journalist Debbie Bradley’s publisher tipped her off on a new lead that would test her discretion and determination. Caleb Webb, a well-known St. Louis real estate family's son, died from a heroin and fentanyl overdose, and Debbie wanted to tell his story. Debbie was unsure if Caleb’s family would allow her to investigate and tell his tragic tale without interference. A drug bust turned out to be a promising lead for a backup story for Debbie if she cannot tell Caleb’s story, and it came out that a drug house, a motel, and a truck shop had all been raided. Debbie made some extremely shocking links as she dug into the lives affected by these incidents.

Geri Dreiling's The Poison Dart effectively conveys the catastrophic effects of drug addiction and overdose. Addiction affects everyone involved, rich or poor, and the novel depicts how someone can easily get addicted to heroin and the suffering that their friends and family go through. The plot developed in a way that kept me on the edge of my seat, and the storyline itself was interesting and rich. I was captivated from the beginning to the end because of the perfect balance of mystery, action, and crime scenes. The complex links between the numerous characters affected by the drug trade, from those looking for a better life to those caught in the crossfire of illicit activity, were described cleverly. The characters were real and relatable. The story was captivating and well-written, and I could not put it down.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

In The Poison Dart by Geri Dreiling, when Caleb West dies from a fentanyl and heroin overdose, reporter Debbie Bradley steps in to investigate. Thinking she is investigating the spiraling problem of drugs in the community, Debbie doesn’t realize she has put herself in danger. As she uncovers the stories behind the drugs, connections start becoming clearer, but Debbie has put herself in the crosshairs of the local drug cartel. While she is determined to uncover the truth, they are determined she won’t get in their way. Can Debbie discover the truth in time? Or will she become yet another victim?

The Poison Dart by Geri Dreiling is the second book in the Debbie Bradley Mysteries series, but I found it easy to read as a standalone. However, reading the first book in the series will give you more insight into some of the main characters. This is a wonderfully written story about the horrors of drug addiction and its effect on those around the addict. It is a frankly written tale, with no holds barred, delving right into the depths of drug cartels, investigations, and prosecutions. The characters are incredibly believable, woven into a realistic plot that will keep you enthralled from the first page. This is truly compelling reading, a story that twists and turns its heart-pounding way to the end, leaving you desperate to read the next book in the series. Highly recommended for fans of gritty, true-to-life thrillers and crime stories.