In Verigin’s debut thriller, a journalist takes on the story of his career when he agrees to write a book exposing the corruption and deadly dealings of an agribusiness giant.
Disenchanted with his work at the Seattle News, Nick Barnes is intrigued when he is approached by Dr. Carl Elles, a former scientist at agricultural company Naintosa. Although Nick had just written a positive article on Naintosa’s genetically engineered vegetables, the doctor convinces him that not all is as it seems with these supercrops, and the two arrange a meeting to look at Elles’ notes. When Nick finds him dead in his office, he can’t shake the thought that something is amiss: An imposing man claiming to be a police lieutenant arrives on the scene well before any other police officers, and a gray car seems to be following his every move. Nick doesn’t start putting the pieces together until he meets with Morgan Elles, daughter of the late doctor. Assuring Nick that she has copies of her father’s notes, she convinces him to continue with the project and write the exposé. Nick agrees, and the two set out on an international game of cat and mouse with the thugs who will do anything to stop them. Throughout the story, Verigin’s pacing is masterful and adept. He imbues Nick with self-deprecating humor and intelligence, lending him a credibility that makes even the occasional red herring a little more fun. Readers may find the perfectly beautiful Morgan less nuanced, and while Nick’s attraction to her is understandable, some may tire of his frequent descriptions of her outfits. Dialogue is lively and realistic, an asset in maintaining the suspense. The level of conspiracy in the story, however, might seem over-the-top; still, most readers will be quick to overlook it and get on with the ride. Verigin has left the door wide open for a sequel, and this entree should earn him a base of eager fans.
Strong writing and a swift plot make for a solid debut.