Poison in the Pills – August Raine

Poison in the Pills came to me through our site. I’ve been in the mood for a nice thriller for quite a while, and when Val mentioned PitP, said, ‘T, the author would love a review, if you can make time’, I high-fived myself

The Book Gods were smiling at me. Fast-forward a couple months, I’m confirming my first hunch: the Gods were smiling indeed.

Check it out.

A new street drug is ravaging the UK. Users are being struck down by an incurable illness. Those suffering from the dreaded Itch are in so much pain they’ve peeled the flesh from their bones, desperate to relieve their symptoms.

Set in and around Manchester, the story follows Jack Bright, a scientist determined to help those affected. Whilst investigating a clinical trial that ended in tragedy, he uncovers a disturbing secret. Little does he know, someone will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried. Before Jack can find out more, he is framed.

Desperate, not only to clear his name but also to find the truth, Jack is forced to resort to increasingly questionable methods. Breaking and entering. Blackmail. Kidnapping. With every decision, his morals are tested. But he perseveres, motivated by a tragedy in his past.

Jack’s luck is constantly dwindling, until he finds himself racing against more than just the people who are after him. What will it take to cure The Itch?

Cover: Nice, it fits the general theme. I like the stylized pills in the title, too!

Yay!

  • I think of PitP as a raw gemstone. A ruby or an amethyst pulled from a mine, ripe with potential – and since this is a debut novel, I’m here clapping. Good plot, good ideas and twists, nice and not so nice characters, an oppressive setting. Bravo.
  • I really appreciate the fact that there’s romance, but! It’s a subplot. Finally, oh my god. Some stories are made for romance, and that’s okay; others aren’t, because a romantic thread would just distract from the main plot without any added value. PitP is a nice example of the latter, and I’m tipping my hat to this. Knowing when to steer clear of something that would just derail a story and turn it into something else? That’s talent. 
  • The cast of characters is varied and interesting. I side-eyed a couple from the very beginning, Klas is so over the top he might as well be real, and even the minor ones have substance. Take Mr. Mulchandaani, for example: his grief is dripping from each sentence, from every word he says. Also, I need to mention Bowker, because in my mind’s eye, he’s Tom Hardy in Inception. Compare the two and you’ll see for yourself.
  • Some plot twists are good. I didn’t see one of them coming and I lost a bet I made with myself about Lizzy. That doesn’t happen often.  
  • Jack is human. He wants to do the right thing, but he’s no superhero–phew–and he’s relatable.
    ‘What are you going to do?’ ‘I’ll think of something.’
    …I mean. I feel so attacked right now (cit.) 

Nay!

  • I called PitP a raw gemstone for a reason, and it’s because it would have benefited from a bit more additional polishing. There are some grammar mistakes here and there, and sometimes they distract from the plot.
  • I’m not really sold on some names. Badder gives away too much, Prophett is ironic, and Dose and Itch themselves? The latter, I can suspend my disbelief and buy it, but a drug called Dose is too much of a stretch, I think. A different name with some added punch would have stuck out more and left less room for confusion – just imagine someone asking their dealer for a dose of Dose.

TL;DR

3.5 stars on GR, rounded up to 4 as encouragement. You’ve got talent, August, show us what you can do next! 😀 

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