Poison In The Pills by August Raine

This independently-published debut novel is a fast paced adrenaline-rush story that’s spookily relevant to the events of 2020-21.

PUBLISHED: August 2020
SHELF: action | thriller
AUTHOR: August Raine
PUBLISHER: Independently published
FORMATS: Paperback | Kindle

what it says on the back cover …

A mysterious illness is ravaging the nation. Those suffering from the dreaded sickness are in so much pain that some victims have peeled the flesh from their bones in a desperate attempt to relieve their symptoms.

Set in and around Manchester, the novel follows Jack Bright, a scientist working to cure the sickness. When a clinical trial goes tragically wrong, jack realises that there has been a terrible mistake. But before he can find out more, he is fired.

Desperate, not only to clear his name but also to find the cause of the sickness, Jack is forced to resort to increasingly questionable methods. Breaking and entering. Blackmail. Kidnapping. With every decision, his morals are tested, to the point that he wonders whether the end justifies the means. But despite this, he perseveres, motivated by a tragedy in his past.

Jack’s luck is constantly dwindling, until he finds himself racing – not just against the people who are after him, but also the dreaded sickness.

‘Before the Itch, a lot of the buildings is Spinningfields were offices or restaurants. To cope with the rising number of patients, the government had started converting available space into hospital wards. Concert venues, offices, and conference centres had all been given a medical makeover. Nowadays, every other building was being used to treat the sick.’

my review

Poison In The Pills drops the reader directly into the a story that started sometime before we arrive, setting the tone for a book that’s quick to read, with a plot full of twists and dramatic events.  I won’t go into the story too much as I really don’t like writing spoilers – that’s the whole point of the book, right! – and the back-cover blurb does a great job at outlining the adventure within the pages.

The author has undoubtedly written this book for readers who enjoy fast-paced dramas.  Poison In The Pills brings a scientific-medical spin to the crime-thriller genre, with a dash of romance, in a scenario that we’ve come all too close to this year.

As the main character, Jack is a feisty, principled scientist who steps well outside his comfort zone to expose the truth of his employer’s fatal drug trial cover-up.  I can’t decide if he’s uncharacteristically brave or has watched a lot of Jason Bourne films, but he exposes himself to a series of dangerous situations that defy his academic background. 

‘It had taken place at the Royal Infirmary in the city centre. I’d been there when the trial took place. I could remember watching the medical staff through a window into the isolation room. They’d been wearing protective clothing … but the quarantine wasn’t for their benefit. Skin protects the body from contagions … unfortunately the patients’ skin was so severely damaged it no longer kept them safe.

On the run from the law, and with a lethal unknown force stopping at nothing to silence him, Jack is compelled to confide in his two friends; Lizzie his high-spirited colleague, and Erin the leader of high profile protest group. With Lizzie’s insider info and Erin providing safe accommodation, Jack is able to continue his investigation into the seven deaths that occurred during this ill-fated clinical trial … and to unmask those behind the cover-up. But he’s forced to call upon the assistance of Klas Berglund, a dangerous underground villain with far-reaching connections … and a penchant for some extremely bizarre favours by way of payment for his services.  I can safely say this is the first book I’ve ever come across a Champagne toe-sucking scenario!

Poison In The Pills powers onwards towards a spectacularly Bond-esque conclusion.  It has all the right ingredients for an action-packed climax … high-tech facility, armed mercenaries, the threat of a particularly grisly demise for an unmasked bad-guy, and an unexpected provocatrix. 

The final chapter of the book is set some time after the dramatic events at the coastal drugs manufacturing facility, and I personally think this would have been better positioned as the epilogue rather than another numbered chapter.  But, that aside, this final scene neatly wraps up the case and brings a nice sense of closure to the story.  If you’re a fan of pacy, twisting, dramatic thrillers then this independently-published novel might well be the book for you.

Thank you to August Raine for sending me this advance copy of Poison In The Pills in return for an honest review.

A portrait of a man lit with only a hair light and a background light.

august raine

Writing has always been an important part of August Raine’s life. Much of his time at school was spent bringing ideas to life… sometimes at the expense of other, less interesting subjects. After travelling for much of his twenties, he is now working full-time and writing whenever he can.

#PoisonInThePills | @AugustRaine12
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2 thoughts on “Poison In The Pills by August Raine

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