- Book: The Chemical Detective
- Location: Europe
- Author: Fiona Erskine
4.5* The Chemical Detective is a great debut thriller by Fiona Erskine – a talent to watch out for. It opens in Slovenia where Dr Jaqueline Silver (Jaq) is working for Snow Science as an explosives expert – keeping the pistes clear of avalanche threats.
But something is wrong in the paperwork for the explosives that arrive with her from Teeside in the UK. The paperwork does not match the quantity or quality of explosives that are delivered. She reports the discrepancy to her line boss, but her concerns are dismissed. She is then falsely blamed for an explosion in a store at Snow Science and is fired. She decides to investigate just what is going on.
She visits Teeside and is nearly killed. Someone does not like what she is doing. She returns to Slovenia and the trail then leads her on to Belarus and Ukraine – and to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. An area where strange and unexplained things happen… She is in great danger.
The story moves to an action packed and breath-taking finale on the coast of Crimea.
The Chemical Detective is a far ranging and well informed piece of work. It is pretty technical at times in its chemistry but this is expertly handled by Fiona Erskine. Fiona is a chemical engineer by training – and many of the locations in the book are places where she has worked. She is at pains to point out that the organisations and events she mentions are not real, but they read as if they could be. Moving chemicals (especially explosives) around Europe is a business that could very well be abused by the unscrupulous. The opportunities for fraud and worse are certainly there…
In TripFiction terms the locations are well and convincingly described – ranging from the bleakness of the North East of England (Teeside is especially depressing…) through the snow covered slopes of Slovenia to the ‘delights’ of Minsk and the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
The Chemical Detective is a book well worth reading, and Fiona Erskine is an author well worth looking out for in the future.