Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dark Alchemy by Sarah Lovett

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  A string of deaths in laboratories around the world has the scientific community on edge -- and the FBI on high alert. To the FBI, the circumstances surrounding the scientists' deaths spell the work of an unusually skilled serial poisoner, and they have zeroed in on a single suspect: the brilliant, beautiful Dr. Christine Palmer. A world-renowned toxicologist and leader of numerous international research teams, Palmer is one of only a handful of scientists with highly classified knowledge of the deadliest experimental neurotoxins and their antidotes.  When a molecular toxicologist is poisoned while working at a top-secret research facility outside Santa Fe, Dr. Sylvia Strange and counterterrorism expert Edmond Sweetheart are recruited to assemble a psychological profile of Palmer in an effort to link her to the crimes. But as Sylvia's investigation of Palmer's charismatic persona draws her ever more strongly into the scientist's orbit, hunter and hunted become perilously intertwined. And when Sylvia discovers that her partner may be withholding crucial information, she no longer knows who can be trusted: is the killer friend or foe?   Sylvia will risk everything she holds dear, only to learn that there is no safe haven from a voyeuristic killer whose weapon of choice may go undetected in the food you eat, the clothes you wear, or the air you breathe.

And here's what I thought:   Yikes, right?!   I liked this idea of the whole alchemy of toxins and poisons.  And the premise of the book reminded me of some of the medical thrillers I've read in the past.   However, I wasn't too big on this book.   The plot was cool, and the pacing was ok.... but I got distracted by some of what seemed to be "overwriting" in this book.   "Overwriting" is like overacting (at least, that's how I see it).   Something is described in such a way that it's overwrought.  Or dialogue just seems too odd.   Or a character's thoughts just don't seem to be in line with how their personality is laid out.   Here's an example:  "Behind him the New Mexico sky was the color of raw turquoise and quartzine, metallic cirrus clouds highlighting a blue-green scrim."  (p. 8).  Okay.   Is this the way anyone describes something?   In their heads?   Or am I supposed to believe this is how the character actually sees things --- making this like an inner dialogue?   Here's another one:  "The wildfire had prowled like a ravenous beast, taking bites from forest and town."   Um.... yeah.   And some of the character names were also distracting:  "Edmond Sweetheart." "Dr. Sylvia Strange."  "Drew Dexter."  "Cash Wheeler."  As much as the story intrigued me, I felt like I couldn't take the book seriously.  Which was a shame.   Maybe other people have really liked this book (and by the way, Dr. Sylvia Strange appears in other books by this author), but this wasn't my cup of tea.

This book met one of the requirements for my Hogwarts Challenge - category:  Defence Against the Dark Arts - read any book that has defence(defense), dark and/or art(s) in its title, read any book that is about self defense, war, history of war/marital arts, murder mysteries


Dawn said...

Sounds like an interesting book...the title of your blog reminds me that this book has a few problems with fluidity. However, I would have to say that I do enjoy reading the descriptions you included above. Annie Proulx has some crazy adjectives, so I admire that style of writing. However, that still doesn't make up for inconsistent characters...

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog! I enjoyed reading through yours and was happy to see another site that offers book reviews! (I love reading as well.) Thanks again!

Jen said...

You've made some good points -- I also like Annie Proulx - but somehow, she's a little more consistent to me. I think that between some of the writing, and the characters' unbelievable names, I got too distracted. :)

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