Cover Image: The Chemical Reaction

The Chemical Reaction

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Member Reviews

Dr Jacqueline Silver is back in this explosive sequel to The Chemical Detective. Following on from the first book, Jaq finds herself back in Teeside and in need of a job. Oily businessman, Frank Good, wants compensation for the loss of his yacht. Bound by a contract, Jaq finds herself where she would least like to be but nothing stays still for long around this woman who is designed to be a catalyst. This was tightly knitted, fast paced and gripping. A masterful follow up.
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This is the second book in this series, the first being The Chemical Detective, which introduced the main character in this book. Dr Jaq Silver, who is a chemical engineer with the unfortunate habit of becoming involved in very dangerous situations. I would say you don't really need to have read the first book to be able to enjoy this one, but it does give some background about what Jaq has been doing prior to the story beginning, and her rather unfriendly relationship with Frank Good.

At the beginning of the book, Jaq is trying to get her life back together. She has been cleared of all charges associated with what happened in the first book, but she has no job and nowhere to live. She returns to the UK and manages to find a job, and the first thing her boss asks her to do is to go on a scouting mission to China. On this mission she becomes embroiled in various plots which are intricately connected with each other.

She finds out that one of her old students, whom she had asked for information about the factory she had been sent to investigate, disappeared when he went to the town the factory is in. Jaq can't leave China until she has found out what happened to him, even though she is under a lot of pressure from all sides to leave and not come back.

What follows is action, intrigue and mystery, and a very complex plot but one which works very well and comes together nicely by the end. I did find myself drifting off at times, because there are a lot of what I would call "sciencey bits", some of which are interesting and some of which are too technical or a bit boring for me. People with more interest in that kind of thing might enjoy this, but I admit to skipping over some of these parts! Having said that I still enjoyed the book. It's a good action thriller with a strong plot. I love a strong, intelligent woman so I think Jaq is a great lead character, but at times I find it pretty hard to believe that she manages to come out in one piece and doesn't wind up dead. But I guess those times are when we have to embrace the magic of fiction and just go along with it!
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I liked the chemistry and the Chinese history but felt rather overwhelmed by the heroine, Jaq, gallivanting all over the world searching for a colleague who has disappeared, for lots of jade objets, vanishing factories, murdered colleagues not to mention aggressive dementia-ridden mother needing expensive care, She's a clever woman dealing with a lot of scumbags and it was just too busy for me. Thanks to NetGalley and Oneworld Publications, point Blank for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This thrillingly clever sequel to The Chemical Detective is essential escapism for lockdown. Globe-trotting chemical engineer and all-round superwoman Jaq Silver finds herself on another heart-stopping journey through some of the world's murkiest industrial hot-spots. This time the action centres on China's vast cities, most of them unfamiliar to westerners, where the impressive sheen of modernity hides a dark history of corruption, crime and man-made disaster. Jaq is pulled into the intriguingly dangerous world of evaporating shadow factories, multi-million dollar art theft and gorgeously athletic males strippers.

The author's knowledge of Chinese society and her professional scientific expertise sparkle through the story. Prepare to be gob-smacked by what you didn't know about rare earth metals, Chinese dam disasters, exotic wildlife banquets and the precise chemical reaction in the brain that creates lust. But what keeps us most gripped is Jaq's spiral downward into increasingly life-threatening physical traps and into her own doubts about the wisdom of the choices she has made... 

A captivating fusion of education and entertainment. Please bring Jaq back for another chemical adventure!
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Fiona Erskine carries on with her fascinating and unique series of thrillers in this second installment. She is a working chemical engineer and has written her main character as one so you know you’re getting insider info on many fronts. This is fiction of course so there’s plenty of drama and pacey plot too but it’s that mix of fact and fiction that works so well.

This one takes us across all sorts of international borders such as China and Russia. There’s an insight into what rate metals are and how they can help with green energy and technology. It’s a complex subject but explained in a fictional plot that flows and is very easy to read and follow. It’s not many authors who can make chemical engineering entertaining!
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Fiona Erskine brings us the welcome return of her fascinating chemical engineer, Dr Jacqueline 'Jaq' Silver, picking up on events straight after where The Chemical Detective ended on The Frankium yacht with Gio, sailing on the Black Sea. Jaq is forced to rely on her wits as she improvises an explosion to save Gio when the yacht breaks up and sinks. This series is unusual in that the narrative is delivered from a lens that sees the world through the eyes of a scientist, a chemical engineer, from Jaq's solutions to the dangers and challenges she finds herself facing, right through to the way a human being's hormones and chemicals kick in during sex. Jaq returns to Teeside with its dying chemical industry, in need of a job. The slime ball Frank Good wants her to compensate him for the loss of The Frankium, despite it being unseaworthy.

Trapped by a watertight punitive contract, Jaq faces further financial pressures in Portugal where she needs to pay the bills for the care of her aggressive, deluded and violent dementia suffering mother, Angie. So when she is offered a well paid job by Sophie Clark that entails a visit to China to Shanghai and Shingbo to look at the joint venture company, Krixo, she overcomes her reservations and goes. Only to find herself worried by the disappearance of a former student, the murders of a translator and her driver and the strange disappearance of a factory. A London art auction results in the sale of the rare jade Qianlong Lovers Cup, once the possession of Quinlong, the 18th century Qing dynasty emperor notorious for executing his enemies by slicing them with a thousand cuts, for £10 million pounds. When the auctioneer, and Professor John Tich are murdered with the same MO, and their pets dismembered, what is the connection? Who is behind the museum heists of Chinese treasures in Durham, Stockholm and Lisbon?

Fiona Erskine weaves a beguiling blend of fact and fiction, lending a strong sense of authenticity in her storytelling, like with her original action heroine protagonist, Jaq, she herself is a chemical engineer, illustrating her knowledge, experience, expertise and research, such as with the 17 rare earth metals required and central to green energy and technology in the narrative. Erskine makes wonderful use of actual Chinese history, such as the man-made Banqiao 1975 dam disaster, with a personal family mission of an elderly Russian in a hospice in Vladivostok. This is a superior and unique series, an intricately plotted, complex and exciting thriller for the discerning crime and thriller fan looking for something different within the genre. I can't wait for Jaq's next outing! Highly recommended. Many thanks to Oneworld Publications for an ARC.
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