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Venom    by Joan Brady order for
by Joan Brady
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Joan Brady's Venom deals in industrial espionage, with happenings that boggle the mind - and keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Venom from unusual hives of bees comes to the attention of a pharmaceutical firm that is doing research to cure patients suffering from radiation poisoning (such as those injured by the Chernobyl nuclear accident). The stakes are high and no dastardly trick is missed, in order to be the firm that wins the prized venom.

Multibillions of dollars are to be earned from medicine able to cure those exposed to radiation. Enter the protagonists from Brady's first book Bleedout - David Marion and Helen Freyl. As they learn more about each other, they realize that more than friendship is developing between them. But running for their lives gets in the way of a romance.

Ex-con Marion answers the door to a hit man and barely escapes. The world believes him dead. While he flees, Helen has gone to London at the behest of her grandmother Becky to negotiate with the firm that seems about to win the game the venom patents would be theirs. She becomes engaged to a man running a charity before discovering what kind of person he really is. Marion and Freyl watch people associated with them being killed off, one by one. The ground is almost littered with bodies. They do not want to be next.

It's a very timely book. One written with an agenda in mind. Brady knows of what she writes and manages to put it across succinctly. She carries the plot admirably as Marion and Freyl try to escape their pursuers, and her characters play their parts well, although at times I had a bit of trouble keeping everyone in the right place. The suspense climbs with each page. Venom is good reading.

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