It was a real pleasure to welcome author Elizabeth Ducie as my guest here on Being Anne way back in November 2016 – you can catch up on our conversation here. My life rocked on its foundations a little after that – and I never did manage to read and review either Gorgito’s Ice Rink or the first in the Suzanne Jones series, Counterfeit!. But I’m delighted to report that I’ve finally managed to try Elizabeth’s excellent writing. Deception! was published in September 2017 – available in paperback and for kindle – and I’ll readily admit that I wasn’t sure that a thriller set in the world of pharmaceuticals (and the second in a series) would be the right read for me. How wrong can you be, eh?
Deceit is a dangerous game and it seems like everyone’s playing.
Athletes fight for no apparent reason. A sprinter disappears – no-one knows why, no-one knows where. Is a new health drink to blame? Regulator turned investigator, Suzanne Jones, flies to Sao Paulo to check it out – and finds herself the centre of threats.
Suzanne’s sister, Charlie, is also in Brazil, chasing counterfeiter Michael Hawkins to make him pay for the pain and suffering he’s caused. It’s Mardi Gras in Rio – and danger stalks the streets.
New Friends. An old adversary. Faces and voices from the past. Will it all be too much for the Jones sisters to handle?
The first thing I must mention is that no-one should be put off by the fact that this is the second in a series – I would have liked to read Counterfeit! for the African dimension and to meet Suzanne and Charlie rather sooner, but this book is perfectly readable as a standalone (although I think I might be tempted by the final part, Corruption!, when it comes out later this year!)
There was so much I enjoyed about this book. The story was absolutely gripping – the investigation into the health drink causing death and mayhem in the world of athletics, and the pursuit of counterfeiter Michael Hawkins, found living a new life in Brazil. I particularly liked the book’s construction, with the thread exposing the earlier life of one of the key characters – quite a story, with a vivid backdrop and fascinating individuals and relationships, adding a dimension that really enhanced understanding of the character.
And the drawing of characters is something else I should mention. The main focus of the present day story is really Charlie, and I took to her immediately – her personal life a little different, her warmth and enthusiasm infectious, even if I did cover my eyes at times when she put herself in the path of danger again and again. Character development is one of the elements that particularly impressed me about this book – in thrillers, they’re too often ciphers, a little cardboard, surface level only, but I found myself in Charlie’s corner throughout, rooting for her, caring about how things turned out.
I enjoyed the setting too – Brazil really comes to life with a trip to Iguazu Falls, the Mardi Gras and the yachts on the marina. And the story itself was quite enthralling, perfectly paced, with twists and turns taking things in different directions: I raced through it into the early hours, until the explosive climax brought a few real shocks and surprises, and then the pages turned even faster. And the writing is really top notch – fluid and easy to read, scenes vividly drawn, lovely insights into Charlie’s thoughts, an authenticity about the pharmaceutical elements (but nothing outside the grasp of the less knowledgeable), set pieces perfectly choreographed, dialogue natural. I didn’t think I would, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one – and it’s a series I’d definitely recommend to all.
About the author
When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing—text books, articles and training modules—and write about some of her travel experiences instead. She took some courses in Creative Writing and discovered to her surprise that she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction than memoirs or life-writing. In 2012, she gave up the day job to write full-time. She has published three collections of short stories and appears in a number of anthologies. Her debut novel Gorgito’s Ice Rink was runner up in the 2015 Writers’ Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year Awards. Her last novel, Counterfeit! came third in the 2015 Literature Works First Page Writing Prize. She also lectures and writes on business skills for authors.