Dark Chemistry by Catherine Lee
‘It was a cool day for early February in Sydney, but Charlie Cooper didn’t mind a bit.’
Detective Charlie Cooper and his partner Detective Senior Constable Joe Quinn are called to Macquarie Fields in south-western Sydney. A man’s body has been found in a local park. He’s been fatally stabbed, and while it could be a mugging gone wrong, Charlie Cooper isn’t sure. Cooper and Quinn quickly determine that the murdered man worked at a nearby pharmaceutical company, Lighthouse Pharmaceuticals, where his uncle is the CEO. Lighthouse manufactures vaccines, and has attracted a group of anti-vaccination protesters. The protesters have been there for over a month, but they’ve been peaceful. So far. The pharmaceutical company is also working on a weight loss pill, and apparently early tests have been encouraging.
The scene is set for an intriguing police investigation, as well as an exploration of pro and anti-vaccination views.
One of the most interesting characters in this novel is Leo McCarthy. Leo has Asperger’s which impacts on how he processes information and communicates, but not on what he observes. Leo works with Ellie Cook, herself a central character. If I tell you more about the story, I’ll inadvertently spoil it.
This is the fourth novel in Ms Lee’s Dark series, and it is every bit as satisfying as the first three. Ms Lee combines action and controversy, as well as providing well developed characters to propel the story forward. I enjoy the way in which the story unfolds: characters are deftly introduced with just enough information to gauge who they are and where they might fit in. There are several different strands within the story: both possibilities and (perhaps) a red herring or two. And Charlie Cooper, his family and Joe Quinn continue to develop.
I finished this novel satisfied (mostly) with the ending, but immediately wanting the next instalment. Book 5 is ‘coming soon’, according to Ms Lee’s website. If you’ve not previously read any books in this series, I strongly recommend starting at the beginning. While the story is self-contained and can be read as a standalone novel, the Cooper and Quinn backstory is important. Trust me.