Thursday, June 25, 2020

An Air That Kills: Christine Poulson

This novel continues the series of medical thrillers starring Katie Flanagan. And this latest book in the series is very topical.

From the book cover:
It is only a matter of time before there is a flu pandemic with the potential to kill billions. Or so wealthy entrepreneur Lyle Linstrum believes. That is why he is funding research into transgenics – the mechanism by which viruses can jump the species barrier – at a high security lab on a tidal island off the North Devon coast. 
A suspiciously rapid turnover of staff has him worried. He sends in scientist Katie Flanagan as an undercover lab technician. Something is clearly very wrong, but before Katie can get to the bottom of what is going on, a colleague is struck down by a mysterious illness.
Katie has just recently returned from a job at a research station in Antarctica. She has no job and no prospects for one at the moment, so when Lyle mentions the problems at the research lab, she volunteers for the undercover job. There are objections, but they work them out, and she gets a quick course in taking on a new identity. 

Poulson excels in all areas, setting, plotting and characterization. The plot moves along briskly. The story is intense and there is a sense of unease from the first day Katie arrives at the lab. The setting on an isolated island is beautiful but sometimes creepy. Each new person we meet on the island is under suspicion. Each is interesting in their own way, some more likable than others.

I like that a consistent set of secondary characters has been maintained over the three books in the series so far. Katie is close friends with Daniel and Rachel Marchmont and their young daughter, Chloe and has previously worked with Lyle Linstrum, scientist, venture capitalist, and Texas rancher. This group of supportive friends makes the series seemed more based in reality than some.

I also liked the brief training period that Katie undergoes to get tips on undercover work. The trainer is very concerned about letting an inexperienced person go into that situation. Thus the undercover work is handled very realistically.

This series just gets better and better. So I am glad to hear that a fourth book centered around Katie Flanagan is in the works. There is a new challenge for Katie in each book, but she still seems like a real person with a real life, real issues, not a superwoman.

Although there is continuity between the books in the series, each can be read as a standalone. I highly recommend this book and this series.

See my reviews of the first two books in the series, Deep Water and Cold, Cold Heart.

Also see other reviews of An Air That Kills...
Moira's review at Clothes in Books and Kate's review at crossexamingcrime.


Publisher:  Lion Hudson, 2019
Length:      267 pages
Format:     Trade paperback
Series:      Katie Flanagan, #3
Setting:     UK
Genre:      Medical thriller
Source:     I purchased my copy


pattinase (abbott) said...

Sounds great. I'm sold.

TracyK said...

That's good to hear, Patti.

Margot Kinberg said...

I am so happy that you enjoyed this one, Tracy. I think Poulson is a very, very talented author, and deserves more notice than she's gotten. I like this series, too, and I hope she continues it.

TracyK said...

Margot, I agree, Poulson deserves to be better known. I have enjoyed one of her Cassandra James series also, and I will go back and read more of that series.

Christine said...

Thrilled that you liked the novel so much, Tracy! Thank you for a lovely review.

TracyK said...

Katie is a great character, Christine, and I have enjoyed all of the books.

CLM said...

I haven't read this series but the author's name looked so familiar I checked and realize I read Murder is Academic a few years ago when I was going to Cambridge. I guess I should investigate her other books!

I also read and liked a book called Look for Her by Emily Winslow, which I didn't realize until after I started was the 4th in a series, but it was too late.

TracyK said...

Constance, I read Murder is Academic two years ago and I loved it. I have the second in the series, Stage Fright. I agree, you should check out Poulson's other books.

Emily Winslow's name sounded familiar. I have her first book, The Start of Everything, which is the first book in a police procedural series. Haven't read it yet although I have had it since 2013. Actually my husband bought it, decided not to read it and gave it to me. Now that there are more in the series I should read it.

CLM said...

Goodreads says The Whole World is the first in the series and the one you've got is second. The one I read is the fourth which I will send you, if interested. I liked it but not enough to keep forever.

I should have added that I also read this as well as the Christine Poulson because set in Cambridge. My mother and I enjoyed going to Mass at a church that features in the Winslow book.


TracyK said...

Constance, thanks for pointing that out (about The Whole World). I will look for a copy of The Whole World. Whenever possible I like to start with the first book in a series. Thanks for the offer to send the book, but I will read the first two in the book and see if I like them. I do like police procedurals so I should. The setting in Cambridge is a plus.

Clothes in Books said...

I love Chrissie's books, and this is a terrific series, full of imagination and ideas. I'm looking forward to the next one. I love the strong female protagonist, and the fact that they are modern crime books but without unnecessary violence and gruesome crimes against women.

TracyK said...

I agree, Moira, and additionally the books have great settings, done very well, and varied.

col2910 said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one Tracy. I've never been especially drawn to medical or sciency-based fiction, I'm afraid.

TracyK said...

Col, I have read some medical fiction that did bother me, but this series works well for me. Research is interesting. I thought the connection to influenza virus might bother me, but I have read some nonfiction on the subject recently and got more interested in the research involved.