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Monday, 21 June 2021

‘The Chemical Reaction’ by Fiona Erskine

Published by Point Blank,
16 April 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-78607-757-8 (HB)
Published by Point Blank,
13 May 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-78607-930-5 (PB)

This is the second thriller in a series featuring audacious chemical engineer, Dr Jaq Silver, as seductive as she is clever.  She does, however, possess the propensity to get involved in a cocktail of murky and dangerous situations that eventually she overcomes but not before the reader has bitten his/her nails to the quick.

As a prominent, high-powered scientist Jaq lives a high-octane professional life, gallivanting around the globe and staying in luxury hotels. This has distinct disadvantages one of which is that it renders it difficult for her to stay beneath the radar when circumstances warrant it.

In the preceding novel, The Chemical Detective she almost lost her life amongst the ruins of Chernobyl.  Now, back on home ground, she is on her beam end and, against her better judgment, accepts a lucrative contract that involves investigating a rare-earths processing plant in China that mysteriously vanishes, without trace, into thin air.

This isn’t a slow burning novel.  Right from the start, the reader is plunged into witnessing Jaq’s struggle for survival, which is a strong characteristic of the narrative. The yacht she’s on with her friend Gio, sailing in the Black Sea, has been rendered unseaworthy and she improvises an ingenious, if terrifying, solution to save them from Davy Jones’s locker.

Intricately plotted with sharp dialogue, the author takes the reader on a bucking bronco ride into the fascinating world of antique Chinese jade, the sad, devastating, man-made 1975 Banqiao Dam disaster, to a hospice in Vladivostok, to Portugal where her violent, dementia afflicted mother lives and to her own stamping ground of Teesside.   The unexplained disappearance of Jaq’s former student, the apparently motiveless murders of an auctioneer and a jade expert, of her interpreter and a driver, means the tension never flags.  The drama and skulduggery is complex and full of suspense. As the author ups the temperature the molecules of the story bounce around more and collide excitingly.

Never a dull moment, this is a whip-smart, action packed, intriguing read that has the reader rooting for Jaq, a thoroughly modern and engaging warrior.   Reactions happen— no matter what.  Highly recommended.
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Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Fiona Erskine was born in Edinburgh, and grew up playing guitar, riding motorbikes and jumping into cold water. After studying Chemical Engineering at University, she leaned to weld, cast and machine with apprentices in Paisley. She is now based in Teesside and travels internationally as a professional engineer. An engineer by day, writer by night. Her debut novel The Chemical Detective, the first in a series, was published in April 2019.

 https://thechemicaldetective.blog/

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

www.serenafairfax.com

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