Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Awakening-S.J. Bolton

S.J. Bolton
Minotaur, Jun 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9780312381141

In an isolated part of Dorset, England veterinarian Clara Benning treats injured wildlife at the Little Order of St. Francis. The remote locale is a perfect fit for the withdrawn Clara who emotionally never recovered from facial scars she received from a childhood accident.

Her panic stricken mother demands Clara come home immediately to remove a venomous snake from her baby’s crib. Soon after handling that dangerous situation, the house of a neighbor is turned into a deadly snake haven to include the extremely poisonous Australian Taipan. An autopsy of one human death from snake bite proves the victim had way too much venom than a single snake could have secreted; Assistant Chief Constable Matt Hoare assumes a homicide occured. He is in charge of the official inquiry into the snake manifestation that has already claimed a second person, but he knows he is out of his element. With Clara and eccentric TV star herpetologist Sean North, Matt investigates who is behind the snake attack and why; nobody understand the connection to a five decade old tragedy.

The story line is at its exciting best when snakes in the village star; when the subplot involves Clara’s past and somewhat that of her family, AWAKENING loses some of its poisonous bite as that feels unnecessarily intruding. Still this is a terrific tale mindful of Snakes on a Plane and Arachnophobia as the zillion different types even the non-poisonous will have readers checking inside cabinets, mail boxes, dryers and water heater corners before reaching out with a hand in a look before you touch scenario.

Harriet Klausner