Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Venom is Joan Brady’s second thriller, following her acclaimed Bleedout published in 2005, which was her debut into the genre. One of her previous novels, Theory of War, the story of a white child sold into slavery after the US Civil War, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1993.
Joan Brady’s territory in Venom is political intrigue amongst multinational pharmaceutical corporations, and its wide-ranging gripping story gathers its strands from Belarus, Illinois, Alabama, Washington, London and Devon. A cure for radiation poisoning is its theme. In Belarus citizens are still suffering from the effects of Chenobyl but oddly seem to be becoming sicker, not better.
The plot of Venom is carefully built up and its background subject is expertly explored. It explodes into life through the strength of its two main characters, Dr Helen Freyl and David Marion. They appeared in Bleedout and now their story continues to enormous effect. Bruised and damaged, David Marion has been released from a life sentence for murder, only to find that wherever he turns he is danger of death from a secret organisation determined to hunt him down, using any means to do so. One of them is through Dr Helen Freyl, who has taken a job with a powerful pharmaceutical company involved in seeking the cure for radiation. But too many people are dying, and soon she begins to fear for her life. She is reunited with David, and they fight their way through the web of deception and danger that threatens them both.
This is a chilling thriller, with memorable characters, set in a remorseless world in which the individual seems powerless and yet remains the only hope.