This novel poses two tantalizing questions: What happened to a young investigator, and why are people in Half Moon, Vermont, having mysterious health problems?
Jude Brannock, a senior investigator at the animal rights group The Kinship, has given Tim Mains an undercover assignment: Infiltrate the facility at Amaethon Industries and, if the company is flouting the Animal Welfare Act, document it. Tim is not only a rookie, but also Jude’s sometime lover. When reports from him suddenly stop, a worried Jude is off to Half Moon. Right off the bat, she is told that Tim has seduced young Heather Buck and introduced her to heroin (Jude is incredulous, rightly so). But drugs are definitely a big thing in little Half Moon, and soon Jude is nosing around that dangerous scene. Meanwhile, residents are showing up with heavy bruising, nosebleeds that won’t stop, and similar afflictions indicative of blood thinners. Oh, and Jude is having attacks of vision loss. Animals are suffering at Amaethon, but that may not be the worst of it. There may be a biotech disaster connected to the company’s experiments with “plant made pharmaceuticals.” The trials may have somehow gotten out of control. Could the PMPs be causing the rampant hemorrhaging? Jude eventually figures out who is to blame for the medical crisis and tries to bring the bad guys to justice in the hair-raising final chapters. What most impresses in Lamont’s (The Trap, 2015, etc.) third volume of her Kinship series is that things and people are not what they seem. Could Tim be a double agent? And then there’s Heather: The Bucks think that their daughter is innocence personified. A drug dealer named Bobby Gravaux is no saint, but is he a killer? Jude even suspects kindly Dr. John Harbolt of wrongdoing. So the author does a remarkable job of keeping readers off balance. Lamont also clearly explains PMPs, a plot point that involves real-world science, not fiction, and teases readers with the side issue of Jude’s periodic blindness. In addition, the author can deftly summon up a clipped style that reveals character as much as subject. Here Lamont describes a black mutt: “Very thin. Very fearful. And in this state, very dangerous.”
A riveting thriller and a welcome third installment of a series; the author is definitely a writer to watch.