Welcome to day five of the Toxic Deception blog tour! Below you will find my book review for this Jordan Reed Mystery by author K.C. Gillis. I will not be revealing any spoilers in my review.
Many thanks go to Emma from Damppebbles Blog Tours for putting together this tour, and for inviting me to participate alongside a number of great bloggers. You can find the complete Blog Tour schedule, as well as more information on the author and where to get a copy of the book, at the bottom of this post.
Content Warning: Violence (murder, blood and gore), genocidal themes
Strange symptoms. Bloody secrets. Can one reporter solve a medical mystery before she ends up in a body bag?
Jordan Reed put her world on hold to hunt down corruption. So when the gutsy journalist gets tipped off about blood money changing hands at a pharmaceutical factory, she dives into the story. With an otherwise healthy worker dropping dead of multiple organ failure, Jordan suspects something far more sinister than a simple accident…
Daring to go up against big pharma, she gains an ally on the inside and recruits two friends to join the investigation. But after a string of false leads and tight-lipped witnesses, she ties her case to disturbingly similar evidence in a medical trial on the other side of the globe. And if she doesn’t expose the lethal conspiracy soon, Jordan is terrified she and her team could be the next victims of the lethal cover-up.
Can Jordan take down a greedy corporation before they sacrifice more lives in the drive for profit?
From the very beginning of the story we are privy to protagonist Jordan Reed’s way of thinking: she questions and speculates, all at the lightning speed one would expect out of a journalist or reporter – which she just so happens to be. This quick thinking proves helpful when she is under duress, but as she learns throughout the story, it is sometimes better to stop and consider before acting hastily. But a little more on that later.
Toxic Deception is quite a Boston and New England story, but K.C. Gillis manages this atmosphere quite well. Never does the setting or specific locations (favorite bar, favorite breakfast spot) cross over into caricature – the author provides recognizable specifics that if it weren’t for his short sentences and quick pace, would have felt more corny than they do. And in regards to that pacing: this is one of those thrilling mysteries that is worth blocking off a few hours of your day or night to read in one go.
Another element of the story structure that boosts the anticipation and sense of danger is the alternating chapters. We get Jordan’s perspective and the perspective of the story’s villain(s) – as well as one more that is so artfully inserted in the beginning as to give the reader a hint of what’s to come without really giving too much away – and this technique helps make the reader feel like they are involved in the race to see how the events and consequences unfold. When it seemed like the narrative hit a slight lull, the stakes grew exponentially and it was off to the races again.
As with any great mystery and thriller, the characters are easily distinguishable from one another, and the side characters provide the protagonist with either conflict or support (and sometimes a little bit of both). Jordan trusts herself, that much is clear, but she struggles with taking help and considering ideas from the people around her, especially when that help contradicts her desires and intuition. This makes her both relatable and infuriating at times, especially when she doesn’t pick up on obvious hints that others do. But this only makes her realization that true success is not achieved alone more satisfying. She might not be completely convinced that she can’t do everything on her own, but by the end there was a sense that she was more willing to lean on people for more than just information for a story in the newspaper.
Toxic Deception takes on the inhumanity and evil sprouted from the allure of money and power. But it also addresses what can happen when more people stand up for what is right, even if it means putting one’s own life in danger. And although this particular chain of events was slightly resolved, Jordan recognized that “as bad as [he] was, he was just pond scum. The pond was still there,” and K.C. Gillis made sure to leave his readers with a shocking cliffhanger that I am still reeling about. The pond was still there, indeed.
About the Author:
K.C. (Kevin) Gillis is the author of the Jordan Reed mystery series. Despite being a lifelong lover of stories and books, writing took a distant back seat as his professional career travelled through the Canadian Air Force, a decade as a chemist, followed by a long and continuing run in corporate America. With writing no longer in the back seat (but not quite yet in the front seat), Kevin how has the Jordan Reed series well under way. His personal interests focus on endurance and water sports. Having grown up in the Canadian Maritimes, he now lives in the US northeast with his wife, teenagers and a pair of black cats.