When a horribly disfigured dog washes up on a Devon beach, three concerned citizens are cast into a web of intrigue. After a sample of T42, a secret, spectacularly deadly biological substance stolen from a Ministry of Defense lab, falls into the hands of bright but impulsive Mark, his former lover Sylvia and her tutor Derek control their outrage that such a thing could be manufactured and reluctantly help authorities track him down. The author, a chemist, develops both story and people in believable ways--but the triangle he creates with the main characters and their frequent romantic reveries undercuts any dramatic tension that builds up. Meanwhile, Mark tries to blow the whistle, only to find that the press is in collusion with the government. Wild with frustration and jealousy, he breaks the vial of T42, dooming himself and Derek to gruesome deaths, quickly hushed up. In the end, Sylvia finds a slow but safer means of protest: publishing scholarly articles on the effects of chemical and biological warfare, gently influencing the tide of public opinion. A vital message, but delivered in a story that wanders between romance and thriller.