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VENOM by Joan Brady

VENOM

By Joan Brady

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7432-7011-3
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Someone badly wants a bee farm—and not to make honey or beeswax.

First Helen Freyl receives an offer of $5 million for her Springfield, Ind., bee farm and then apiarist Joshua Brewster discovers someone trying to steal the farm’s bees. Helen soon deduces that something in the bee’s venom may be vital to an antidote the Follaton Medical Foundation is developing to treat radiation poisoning. Meanwhile, ex-con David Marion (who debuted in Brady’s Bleedout, 2005) goes on the lam after someone tries to take him out in his Springfield home. David has the earmarks of another thriller superhero: He’s not averse to hot-wiring cars, making homemade bombs and stripping a gay man to socks and garters, then forcing him to divulge his PIN numbers by pushing against his carotid artery. Helen longs for David, whom she met when he was cleared of his father’s murder. After a lot of momentum-slowing back story and exposition, they meet in London, where Helen has gone to learn why Follaton so desperately wants the bee venom. When two Follaton employees die of acute radiation poisoning in Chernobyl, Helen fears she may be the foundation’s next victim. She and David determine to find out what’s happening. Their investigation reaches back to cruel acts attendant upon David’s parentage and to the needs of a Russian journalist determined to expose Follaton and its suspicious activities in Chernobyl. And then, in Springfield, Helen’s grandmother unwittingly sends a paid assassin after David. The final pursuit sends Helen and David down to the foundation’s basement, where some potentially revealing files may exist, and onto the motorways surrounding London for a wheel-spinning car chase as they race to Gatwick and a plane that waits to fly them to safety.

Brady’s protagonist has a sympathetic, distinctive quality, but the other characters and her plotting have a been-there-read-that feel.