A pharmaceutical war in Sweden incites kidnappings, murder, and betrayal in Justine’s (Traitors from Inside Out, 2014) medical thriller.
Althonat Global CEO Dr. Martina
Strömstedt Edgren is lucky to awaken from a coma after a Dodge van slammed her
Volvo into the icy sea. It may have been attempted murder, nearly identical to
her parents’ fatal accident, and American expatriate Dr. Steven Rangor is the
first suspect. Rangor, who threatened Martina on the night of her accident,
works for rival company Citaraph. Althonat’s natural miracle drug, Rensblad,
and malaria cure, Botanik Herbier, have been challenging Citaraph’s
Life-Vaccine on the market. While Rangor tries to discredit Althonat and its
use of alternative medicine, Martina believes Life-Vaccine compromises the
immune system, part of the company’s covert “population reduction” plan.
Meanwhile, the enigmatic Arlik Glenborg Ltd. makes a legal claim on Rensblad,
while Martina’s papa, Peter, the drug’s engineer, made unexplained payments to
Arlik. Martina digs up dirt on Rangor for leverage but, having endured
treachery and corporate spies, pushes others away, including her
lover-turned-fiance, Dr. Jonas Eneroth. When a law demands schoolchildren be
vaccinated with Life-Vaccine, Martina considers the life of her 6-year-old son,
Joachim, to be in peril. Citaraph board members, however, feeling they can’t
control Martina, may initiate Plan B, a much more immediate menace to Joachim.
The thriller turns pharmaceuticals into sheer entertainment, with the
protagonist hounded by individuals who apparently want her dead. It’s a sequel,
picking up six days after the last novel, but knowledge of the preceding book
isn’t a necessity. Justine skillfully recaps for new readers without
excessively retreading for those familiar with the storyline. Laudable villains
are unmistakably creepy: Dr. Fritz Grenzken tests an experimental drug on
pseudo-girlfriend Birgit Halonen, and Rangor is Martina’s next-door neighbor by
design. Justine does tend to overstate the baddies’ malevolence: more than one
character likens Citaraph to the Gestapo, with the company’s nefarious research
facility discernibly named Devilund Clinic. Though subplots continue from the
prior book, Justine resolves at least some of them, like a killer identified
for a murder. She provides material for the proposed next installment as well
when Martina exposes a shocking (potential) traitor.
The author injects mystery and suspense into a
tale of feuding drug companies.