Publication Date: August 28, 2012
In Chemical Attraction by Christina Thompson, Dr. Maddie Pierce is worried about dangerous chemicals that appear on the order rolls for her department at a medical research lab. Research into the other departments and their order rolls have led to her calling the FBI for help. The FBI sends Agent Joe Roberts, a man with ties to the small western Michigan town. The attraction between Maddie and Joe is instant, but now animals started attacking and killing their owners, the stakes have been set higher. Can Maddie and Joe solve the case without their chemical attraction getting in the way?
Picture a rock star on the stage calling out, “THE BEST FANS IN THE WORLD ARE RIGHT HERE IN (YOUR CITY)!” The roar is deafening as pride rolls through the assembled fans who so want to believe that they are the best of the best. That’s how I feel when I see the little corner of Michigan, in which I grew up, mentioned in literature. I am a Ypsilanti girl always, but lived and worked in Ann Arbor for a number of years as well. Ann Arbor gets a minor shout out in this novel but, as always, it caused my pulse to race a bit. You somewhat-crazy book fans (like me) will know what I’m talking about.
Thompson writes characters that a reader wants to know. The good guys are affable and fun. We get them on downtime singing karaoke, eating and having a beer and eating again. Instead of wishing that Thompson would rush the action, those moments are fun with friends. Thompson very cleverly gives everyone a backstory, no matter how brief. In one scene we have a grandmother with her grandson at an animal auction. Thompson tells us that her husband died during a flu epidemic, but she is ready to move on and has her eye on someone. The background story of her is priceless because as the scene progresses, her grandson is in the path of danger and our hearts bleed for her—we know she suffered enough, don’t take her grandson! There’s an emotional investment that is invaluable in this sort of story.
The plotline is wonderful. Animals are turning on their owners and killing them. At the start of the novel, a young corn detasseler (and what young person in Michigan or Ontario wouldn’t know all about corn detasseling — often a teen’s first job here) finds a body in the field that has been attacked by emus and subsequently died of a stroke. The young woman puts her hand into his chest and the description is beautifully gory and yet not overly graphic which sounds perhaps a bit contrary. There is a solid and believable scientific base for the story and there are few superhero moments. These are good people doing their best.
I do have a bit of a bone to pick with Thompson, the catty female. I hate the female that serves no real purpose but to be catty in a story and Rita is that character with bells on in Chemical Attraction. The character is designed to cause a minor stress between the characters. Especially, in case of this novel, she came too late to be believable. She not only serves to counteract the strong and smart female characters but to shove these women back into a weak and petty stereotype. We get it, Joe is hot. That’s established. Any female in the novel would sleep with him in a heartbeat. Rita was just unnecessary.
Chemical Attraction was a fabulous read. If you like romantic thrillers in the spirit of Sandra Brown you cannot do better than this novel. It was a wonderfully written and plotted story.
Read a review of the second book in the series, Chemical Reaction. For books by Christina Thompson, check out our review of The Trucker’s Cat.
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