POISON MIND by Jeffrey Good


The True Story of the Mensa Murderer and the Police Woman Who Risked Her Life to Bring Him to Justice
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 Irritatingly melodramatic and superficial treatment of the 1988 murder of a Florida woman who drank a poisoned Coca-Cola. Surprising, considering that coauthor Goreck was the undercover cop whose work brought the killer to trial. Peggy Carr took four months to die; two sons, Travis and Duane, spent several weeks in the hospital, ravaged by the thallium that had somehow been put into an eight-pack of Coke. Peggy's new but troubled marriage to Pye Carr made him the initial suspect, but he, too, had the poison in his system. As Good (a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times) and Goreck recount the case, they pass over seemingly obvious questions. For example, why had no one contacted the police about the threatening letter the family had received four months earlier? Why did it take two months for the police to get around to questioning next-door neighbor George Trepal, an ex- convict (he had operated a methamphetamine lab) whose belligerent wife, a doctor, fought bitterly with Peggy over her teenage sons' loud music and shenanigans? There had even been suspicion that Trepal had poisoned Pye's dog. When Goreck goes undercover, she introduces herself at a Mensa Mystery Weekend hosted by Trepal. A computer hobbyist and a ``fumbling nerd,'' Trepal befriends Goreck, who pumps him for advice on how to rid herself of an abusive ``husband.'' The investigation took more than a year and produced primarily circumstantial evidence and supposition over George's eccentricities: his collection of bondage equipment and movies; the unfinished ``torture chamber'' in his new home. A bottle of thallium was found in his workshopone year after the murderand he had compiled a manual on voodoo poisoning. That was enough to convict him; he's now awaiting appeal on Florida's death row. Despite all the details of his lifestyle and the FBI-generated psychological profile, there's so much left unexplained that the book feels incomplete. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Film rights to HBO)

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1995
ISBN: 0-688-11947-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995