Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Venom-Joan Brady

Joan Brady
Touchstone, Aug 3 2010, $26.99
ISBN 9780743270113

Wealthy Springfield, Illinois resident physicist Helen Freyl owns a farm in Caton, Alabama. On her farm is a special honeybee hive that produces a type of honey, which can heal people; she is hiding there grieving the death of her lover.

The pharmaceutical industry upon hearing of the unique qualities of the honey claims the patent for the honeybee venom. Helen and her cantankerous grandmother battle the giants even as she joins a London based research team working on an antitoxin for radiation poisoning. However, Helen is stunned when she learns of scientific death testing research by Follation Medical Foundation in the Mogilev Region of Belarus near where the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl occurred almost twenty-five years ago. Grandma and granddaughter know their lives are unsafe so Helen turns to former con artist David Marion, who killed a hitman and set up his home to insure that everyone will assume he died in a house explosion.

Although lacking the consistent message of the previous Freyl-Marion teaming (see Bleedout) even with the obvious set up to do so, Venom in an exciting international thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment David visits the Judge who muses how freedom loving USA has more people in prison than dictatorial Communist China. Although heavy handed, fans will enjoy the connecting of the dots starting in Springfield through Caton to London and Chernobyl as David and Helen know that greed is the capitalist engine of choice with the unprotected as its fuel in a way that would make Mendele proud.

Harriet Klausner

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