White Blood, James Flemming

From the author of Thomas Gage and Temple of Optimism comes a gritty new offering: Fleming takes us on a journey which spans continents and makes and breaks lives. Through the eyes of his naturalist protagonist, Charlie Doig, we encounter a fascinating world of science and intrigue, with enough political and romantic confusion thrown in to keep the pages turning. Fleming’s descriptions are detailed and uncompromising without being tiresome, while his characters are edgy and complex.

We follow Doig as he attempts to avenge his father’s death by creating a vaccine against the plague which killed him. This foray into the natural world becomes complicated, however, as Doig matures and other interests, such as his family’s honour, his love for his cousin Elizaveta, and the outbreak of war, interrupt his travels. Tension builds as Doig gets the girl, but their life together is threatened by the instability of 1914 Russia.

The couple are forced to shelter soldiers and other endearing characters from the bitter winter, and, whilst in close confinement with the army officers, Doig becomes convinced that one of them is a Bolshevik who will “destroy them all”. Don’t expect light Easter reading, but be prepared for a gripping story which might come as a refreshing change to the usual holiday paperback.

Random House

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