Having read – and thoroughly enjoyed – the second book in the Suzanne Jones series, Deception! (you’ll find my review here), I’d rather planned to try something different from Elizabeth Ducie. Gorgito’s Ice Rink, I thought – that’s one that’s been on my kindle for far longer than it should have been. But then I saw that Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources was organising a tour for Corruption!, the third in the series, and I just couldn’t resist. Corruption! is now available via Amazon in paperback and for kindle, and on all other popular e-book platforms – and I recommend it most highly.
Out of fear. Out of greed. Out of evil. Corruption springs from many roots.
Teenagers fall prey to a deadly new drug craze sweeping across Russia. Pharmaceuticals destined for Africa turn up on the backstreets of Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok. Regulator Suzanne Jones and her sister, Charlie, fight to stop the pushers before more kids die.
But will their discoveries mean a friend goes to prison? And are they putting their loved ones in danger?
With old adversaries and surprising new allies, the Jones sisters face their toughest challenge to date. The heart-stopping final episode in the Suzanne Jones series of thrillers set in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals.
If I was surprised how very much I enjoyed the second book in this series, I have to say that I think I might have enjoyed Corruption! even more. It might have helped that I had clear expectations, and that I’d already met (and really liked) Charlie and Suzanne – but I’m quite certain that this gripping read could very comfortably be read as a standalone.
It probably goes without saying that for a pharmaceutical thriller to work convincingly, it needs a feeling of authenticity – and Elizabeth Ducie draws on her vast experience to make the story content vividly real, and quite fascinatingly detailed, both about the manufacturing process and the loopholes viciously exploited by the criminal fraternity.
The whole story is quite superb – exciting, unpredictable, a real page-turner – but I particularly liked its characters. After its shocking scene-setting opener, the story’s initial focus is on Francine Matheson, ousted from her political role and facing an uncertain future touched with sadness, an excellent portrait of living with loss, self sufficient but seeking a new rudder for her life. Her encounter with Anton Dimitriov – a pharmaceutical manufacturer from St Petersburg – and his well-drawn family then begins to drive the story, an initial suspicion that all is not as it should be escalating into a full-scale investigation, with extreme danger for all involved. Both Suzanne and Charlie join the action, and I particularly liked the extra level of complication from the changes in their personal circumstances, with a few nice detours into the detail. The villains are suitably villainous, and it was interesting to encounter again some characters I was already familiar with – but that previous knowledge wasn’t in any way a pre-requisite.
And the story was quite excellent – beautifully paced, full of twists and turns, cranking up the tension in the lead up to a tremendously exciting, well-handled climax. And I really enjoyed the quality of the writing – great set pieces, insights into key characters’ thoughts and motivations, vivid descriptions, crisp dialogue that drives the story forward, and some absolutely fascinating detail about corruption within the pharmaceutical world. I thoroughly enjoyed this one – and I do secretly rather hope that we haven’t seen the last of Suzanne and Charlie.
Elizabeth Ducie was my guest on Being Anne following the publication of Counterfeit!, the first book in the series, in 2016 – you can catch up with our conversation again here.
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 novels, three collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.