Straff Plot Climax with the Poison
And, finally, we get back to Straff. His cycle is filled with quite a few short little scenes, and I suspect that many readers won't pay attention to them. Still, if I'm going to give someone a viewpoint, I like to give them conflicts and problems unrelated to the other characters. It makes the characters and their lives more real. In this case, Straff's problems with a former mistress surface in a revenge ploy.
As I said, it's a small thing, rather unrelated to the overall plot of the novel. When Tor was pushing for me to cut the book (which I didn't end up doing) I left these scenes because I felt that they 1) Worked quite well and 2) I think they gave a little more depth to the story, showing that characters have lives other than the main plot.
The mistress lies here, by the way. Going cold turkey on that drug probably wouldn't have killed Straff. It might have, but probably not. Still, being under her power probably wouldn't have been very fun for him. He didn't kill her intentionally–he really was just losing control of his anger under the influence of panic and poison. This is one of those little twists that I hope feels very realistic under the circumstances, but is also unexpected.