Publishing year: 2004
Ken Follett is one of my favourite authors.
Once again he surprises me with a great plot. This is quite different from what I’ve read by this author so far. It is a mystery that concerns the pharmaceutical industry. Toni Gallo, the head of security in Oxenford, a pharmaceutical industry, realizes that two doses of an experimental drug are missing. She fears that either someone has stolen it to sell it to the competition or worse that the person might need it. When they suspect that the person taking the drug is a laboratory worker called Michael Ross, they get to their house too late. Michael has contracted Madoba-2, similar to Ebola, and he dies.
From then on Toni starts an investigation. She finds out that Michael belonged to a group called “Free the Animals”, and it seemed that he was concerned about the animals they used to test their drugs on. On some CCTV footage they discover that Michael brought a rabbit to the laboratory and swapped for the one that he took home. Why he did that, it is not clear and that’s what Toni is trying to find out. Besides, Toni and those working at Oxenford are trying to locate those who were in contact with Michael to make sure there has been no contamination.
Apart from the story, we learn some interesting facts about Toni. She used to be a police officer, but one failure forced her to resign. It was around that time that the man who she had been living with for eight years left her when she most needed him. The man was also a detective, Frank Hackett, and he’s now been assigned to deal with this case. I really don’t like Hackett. The conversation she had with Toni showed that he wasn’t very nice. I thought this would be the romantic element in the novel, but it seems that he is not the man Toni needs. Besides, even though Toni asked him not to, he passed information about the case to Carl Osborne, a tabloid journalist, and now Oxenford is surrounded by dozens of journalists after Osborne gave his scoop and hinted about possible contamination.
Toni actually has feelings for the owner of the company, Stanley Oxenford, who is twenty years older than she is. His wife died over a year ago, but Toni doesn’t know if Stanley could have feelings for her too or if he will ever get over his wife’s death. Oxenford’s family is also part of the plot. There’s a son, Kit, who Oxenford fired when Toni discovered that he was stealing from him. He had planned to rob the company now, but when he hears about Michael Ross’s death and what that implies, he decides to back out. There are also two sisters, Miranda and Olga, but I don’t know if they have an important role in the novel.
Great start. I wonder what else Toni will discover and whether Michael has infected someone else.