The Chemist

Written by Stephenie Meyer

Review written by Andrew Hill

A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.


The Chemist
Sphere
RRP: £20
Released: November 8 2016
HBK

Living under a slew of assumed identities, constantly changing addresses and rigging a ‘kill box’ around you every night is no way to live.

But when you’re a former Government ‘interrogator’ and out of favour with your erstwhile employers, who have already made efforts to terminate you with extreme prejudice, these are the measures you must take to stay alive.

When our protagonist is offered a way back into the fold, in exchange for one more job, it seems like manna from heaven.

But a case of mistaken identity sees our lady with the wrong person on her interrogation table and her captive’s brother hell-bent on vengeance.

I liked the premise, the double cross and hunted turning on the hunters. I liked that the female protagonist was dispassionate, business-like and result-focused, to the extent that it would be unreal for her to have any empathy for the people she was interrogating. For her to be able to introduce her ‘victims’ to the chemicals she uses to pry the information out of them, must surely mean that she can’t look at them as human beings; and this is where I had a problem with the story. The writer introduces a love story between our lady chemist and the man she’s wrongly kidnapped. For me it ran against character and was an unnecessary distraction.

I could have bought a bond forming over time, but this was like some sort of Stockholm Syndrome on speed. I’m sorry, but if someone had stuck needles in me, induced eye-popping pain and demanded information of which I had no knowledge of; I’m not likely to declare undying love for you any time soon.

The details of the chemicals used, how to set up a kill zone are all meticulously researched and utterly believable. The main story is well-written, taut and enough without the love interest.

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