Tag Archives: Christine Poulson

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 😉 . This book refers to Cold, Cold Heart 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 adult language in this book, but there is some off-stage sex that is hinted at. If that bothers you, I would skip this book.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Top 10 Tuesday Halloween Edition– Outbreaks and Epidemics!

27 Oct

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Halloween Freebie. If it’s not too early for you, I have a list of books that feature outbreaks and epidemics — real life scary! And because they are all Christian or clean fiction, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a couple of historical novels that feature the Spanish Flu, some mystery and suspense that explore potential viruses/bacteria and other biological agents that get loose, and a YA dystopian that explores the aftermath of an epidemic. A couple of the authors are even doctors. If the subject isn’t too frightening for you, I hope you find a great book.

 

For more Halloween goodness, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

 

Top 10 Books Featuring Outbreaks and Epidemics

 

An Air That Kills by Christine Poulson

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 . . .

Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living ― but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field . . . and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out.

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters – Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa – a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Captives by Jill Williamson

In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many – including his fiancée, Jem – taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe. Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams. Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late? 

The Gabon Virus by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore

An ancient disease, a modern pandemic, and the one person who offers hope for a cure has been dead for 350 years

In 1666, a horrible disease took the lives of almost every person in Eyam (pronounced Eem), England. Helping the sick and the dying was the mysterious and ghostlike Blue Monk, whose strange appearance terrified even those who were comforted by him.

More than three centuries later the disease has returned, more virulent than before. Every day more people are infected; every hour more die.

The lives of millions rest in the hands of a bio-team — the Time Scene Investigators — that studies history to find cures for modern diseases. But the newest member of the team, Dr. Mark Carlson, has suffered a heartbreaking loss.

With every tick of the clock the world approaches a global pandemic. A race against time becomes a race across continents — to find a frightened boy who is carrying and spreading the disease wherever he goes, to thwart the machinations of corporate greed and fanatical sabotage, and to find the connection between a great tragedy of the past and a potential catastrophe of the present. Our present.

The Influenza Bomb by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore

Masses of people are dying from a mysterious flu. While the TSI team searches for a cure, a notorious eco-terrorist group, Return to Earth, uses an influenza bomb to poison the water. It’s a race against time — with the outcome impacting the entire world.

By the time the team discovers that the terrorists are using the water supply to infect people, the sickness is spreading worldwide and no one has a cure. When Return to Earth makes off with a mysterious device called the influenza bomb with the intent to destroy all of mankind, Dr. Hutchinson must stop the contamination from being spread before it’s too late.

Lethal Remedy by Richard Mabry

An epidemic of a highly resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus luciferus, has ignited, and Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death. Only an experimental antibiotic developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll can save the girl’s life.

Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.
Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late. What is the missing puzzle piece? And who is hiding it?

Outbreak by Davis Bunn

The waters off the West African coast are a menacing red, full of algae thick enough to stand on in places. In nearby villages, mysterious deaths start to occur — and the panic mounts. But before an alarm can be sounded, the sea currents shift, the algae vanishes, and the deaths stop. Everyone is relieved when things return to normal, and local government officials are happy to sweep the publicity nightmare under a rug.

An American biological researcher, Avery Madison, is dispatched by his employer to piece together exactly what happened, having long feared an ecological disaster just like this could occur. He’s had little evidence to go on before now, and what he finds in West Africa is rapidly disappearing. But Avery knows the danger hasn’t disappeared — it has just moved on.

Point of Origin by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

When virus-infected pirates hijack a humanitarian medical ship from an African port, they trigger the threat of a global pandemic.

How do you keep hope alive in a sea of darkness?

An African fisherman.

Foreign exploitation of Africa’s natural resources has destroyed the fishing business of Dabir Omar. Hijacking oil tankers brings cash to his family in their remote village, but it doesn’t buy the medical care needed to stop the deadly sickness attacking his people. When Dabir’s son becomes ill, the desperate pirate sets sail for the Liberty, an international humanitarian medical ship ported on the coast. 

An American surgeon.

Against his better judgment, Dr. Josiah Allen agrees to work a two-week surgical stint on the Liberty, moored in Douala, Cameroon. Shortly after he arrives with his precocious six-year-old daughter, Josiah is sent ashore to investigate a mysterious illness at the ship’s post-op clinic. While he’s gone, Ebola-infected pirates hijack the medical ship where Josiah left his daughter.

The woman compelled to save them all.

When pirate negotiations fail, Mackenzie Scott’s privately-owned extraction unit comes in for the rescue. But when the medical ship where Mac had taken a wounded comrade is hijacked by pirates, the former military pararescue jumper becomes the pirate’s key hostage. 

Both fathers go to war to save their children. If Mac can’t convince them to work together, the winner of this conflict will be a deadly virus intent on destroying the world.

The Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high— and Sunset Cove is not spared.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer Reading from My NetGalley Shelf

25 Jun

Summer is supposed to bring more time for reading. And while that is generally the case, I have lots of obligations this summer that are cramping my reading style. 😉 Because of that, my NetGalley shelf is overflowing. This summer I am going to try to catch up on all those great titles. Let me know which book I should start with first.

For more Summer TBR Lists, make sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Books From My NetGalley Shelf

Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson

Death of A Jester by Deb Richardson-Moore

The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

Mending Fences by Suzanne Woods Fisher

A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin

Verity by Lisa T. Bergen

 

What’s on your summer TBR list?

Top 10 Tuesday — Books I Had All Intentions of Reading in 2018. Epic Fail!

22 Jan

I have the best intentions when it comes to reading. But alas my eyes are larger than my time constraints. So some really good books are left unread. Determined to read from books I got last year, I did whittle the list down by 2 this month. A weak start, but I will take it. The books on my list are in my possession and desperately need reading. Maybe I will be more successful in 2019. What about you? Did your pile grow much in 2018?

Find out other bloggers’ failed attempts at reading their TBR piles at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books I Didn’t Read in 2018

 

All That Glitters by Les Cowan

Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson

Death Beat by Fiona Veitch Smith

Death of A Jester by Deb Richardson-Moore

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

 

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

Local Artist by Paul Trembling

Minding The Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

 

Which book would you read first?

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer TBR

19 Jun

It is definitely summer here in the sunny South. The humidity and temps are up and the bugs are out. But I can’t complain because I have some great summer reading — history, mystery, romance, and suspense all in varying combinations! What about you? What are you reading this summer?

Make sure to check out other bloggers’ summer reading lists at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Books on My Summer Reading List

 

Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson

Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey

The Death Beat by Fiona Veitch Smith

Falling for You by Becky Wade

The Linen God by Jim O’Shea

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

Murder at The Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

A Rebel Heart by Beth White

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

 

What’s on your Summer TBR?

 

Book Review: Deep Water

16 Feb

518hst1tmal-_sx323_bo1204203200_An obesity treatment has been discovered, but before anyone can benefit, a dispute breaks out about who owns the discovery. David Marchmont, a patent lawyer, is asked to handle the case. There’s one big problem, though: crucial evidence is missing — evidence that might have a bearing on the clinical trial two years before.

David’s personal life has its own challenges. His daughter, Chloe, has a rare and serious genetic condition. His wife, Rachel, becomes friendly with a young researcher, Kate Flanagan, who is seeking a cure for Chloe’s disorder; Kate, in turn, becomes concerned that her lab colleagues may be cutting corners on the obesity drug.

As evidence of mishandling mounts — then disappears — Kate, Rachel, and David find themselves caught up in acute ethical challenges and personal danger. Is biotechnology outstripping our capacity to make ethical decisions?

 

Dr. Christine Poulson has lectured in art history and is familiar with academic life. A member of the Society of Friends, she is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction and is an active blogger. She is a member of the Crime WritersÂ’ Association.

My Impressions: 

When I signed up to review Deep Water by Christine Poulson, I’m not sure what I expected. I guess I thought this book would be a medical thriller with lots of action, but short on character development. I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of characterization, the complexity of the plot, the ethical and moral themes, and the very good writing of this thinking man’s mystery. Deep Water is a gem, and I am hopeful Christine Poulson will have a long fiction career.

Let’s first look at setting. Deep Water is set in Ely, England a place sometimes described as Silicon Fen. This very old cathedral town set in the marshes is home to high tech and biotech firms and labs. I liked that the author spent time describing the city and cathedral — it definitely added to the book. The characters are complex, flawed and very likable. I became invested in their lives. The mystery involves a clinical trial and patent case with some irregularities — an interesting premise that kept the pages turning. But this book has a bit more than the average mystery. There are moral and ethical questions that keep the characters and the reader engaged and thinking. While not an overtly Christian book as one would define it here in the US, Deep Water has a foundation based on a Christian worldview. Life has value, whether it is pre-born or born, healthy or medically fragile. The issues the characters deal with are not easy, but they are true to life. Deep Water is published by a British house, so there is a bit of language and social drinking that may not appeal to those who read only Christian fiction. I did not have any trouble with it.

A great blend of mystery and ethical questions, Deep Water gets a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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