Review: Chemist Emma Caldridge is drawn into an international struggle for control of what may be a cache of chemical or biological weapons about to be sold to terrorists on the high seas in Running Dark, the second mystery in this series by Jamie Freveletti.
Emma is in South Africa running a marathon when a car bomb explodes, knocking her nearly unconscious. And although she cannot prevent it, she's aware that someone has injected her with a substance while she's down. Recovering and with the expectation of reporting the incident, she finishes the marathon in a personal record time. Though she files a report with the authorities, she also begins a chemical investigation of her own body using the local laboratories of Price Pharmaceuticals, a company for which she has done some consulting work, only to discover nothing amiss. While on her way to the airport to return home, she's contacted by Darkview, a security firm with deep government connections, who want her to travel to northeast Africa to intercept a cruise ship that is rumored to be carrying the deadly toxin ricin — and they need official confirmation as quickly as possible. But that same cruise ship has been targeted by Somali pirates, who have been hired by the mysterious Vulture to deliver the ship and its contents to him — at any cost, even the lives of the passengers.
For the first two-thirds or so of Running Dark, there is no discernable unifying plot for the nonstop sequence of action scenes involving a multitude of disparate characters. To add to the confusion, there is little introduction to or development of these characters, many of which apparently have interpersonal relationships from the previous (and first) book in the series; it's often assumed that the reader is aware of who knows whom and in what context. The best of the opening scenes takes place on board a cruise ship sailing from Dubai to the Seychelles, and it is here that, well over half-way through, the various storylines start to come together, though it remains and continues to be largely style (action) over substance (plot). Running Dark is most definitely a thriller in that it includes all the requisite elements that make it so, but it is at best a superficial one.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided an ARC of Running Dark for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Running Dark: South Africa, Somalia, Washington DC
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Running Dark by Jamie Freveletti — An Emma Caldridge Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 2010
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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