Book Review: An Air That Kills

16 Nov

The atmosphere in the lab is toxic.

It is only a matter of time before there is a flu pandemic with the potential to kill billions. Or so wealthy entrepreneur Lyle Lynstrum 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.

Has the safety of the facility been compromised, allowing a deadly virus to escape? Katie begins to suspect that the scientists are as deadly as the diseases – and that her cover has been blown.

Then the island is cut off by high seas and a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse begins . .


Before Christine Poulson turned to crime, she was an academic with a PhD in History of Art and had published widely on nineteenth century art and literature. Her Cassandra James mysteries are set in Cambridge in the UK. The first in her new series, Deep Water, featuring scientist Katie Flanagan, appeared in 2016. The second, Cold, Cold Heart, set in Antarctica, came out in January 2018 and the third, An Air That Kills, was published in November 2019. Her short stories. published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, CWA anthologies, and elsewhere, have been short-listed for a Derringer, the Margery Allingham Prize, and the CWA Short Story Dagger.


My Impressions:

I love brainy British mysteries — those that make you think while you are trying to figure out whodunit! The third book in Christine Poulson’s series featuring researcher Katie Flanagan, An Air That Kills, does just that. At first I was reluctant to read this book with the blurb promising a threat of pandemic, but you needn’t be worried about that. Yes, there are deadly viruses involved in the book, but it is the murderous humans that the characters really have to worry about. Katie impersonates a lab tech to discover if anything is going on with the research at the Cat 3 infectious lab that studies, among other things, influenza. And plenty is. I have to admit, I trusted no one! The remote island location with its mists sets up a very mysterious atmosphere that made the story even more enjoyable. Katie is an atheist, but is perhaps a bit of a seeker as well, though her journey towards faith is very slow — and realistic. The theme of the novel — public persona vs. hidden self — is explored in more than one character. While this is the third in the series, it is not necessary to read the first two to enjoy the complex twistings. However, I recommend beginning at the beginning šŸ˜‰ . This book refers to Cold, Cold HeartĀ a lot. I have it on my Kindle, and now I have to read it too!

Please note: An Air That Kills is published by a British imprint that focuses on Christian fiction. However, CF outside of the US may contain some elements not all American CF readers like. There is no adultĀ language in this book, but there is some off-stage sex that is hinted at. If that bothers you, I would skip this book.


Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Lion Fiction for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: An Air That Kills”

  1. Gretchen November 16, 2020 at 8:08 pm #

    I like the sound of this series. I’ll have to see if I can find it. Thanks for the review!

    • rbclibrary November 16, 2020 at 8:40 pm #

      Hope you enjoy!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: