In this thrilling sequel to The Queen of All Poisons, Dr. Lily Robinson, driven by guilt over her daughter's presumed death, returns with a mission to save the U.S. from a devastating missile attack. (Book 2 in the Dr. Lily Robinson trilogy.)
More than 20 years ago, Dr. Lily Robinson--the brilliant pathologist and toxicologist--was a member of a scientific expedition in Colombia, South America, that ended in the death of her colleagues and, presumably, her little girl. Unaware of the true circumstances of her tragedy, her memory blocked in self-preservation, Dr. Robinson's despair made her fair game for recruitment by a secret government agency whose objective is to eliminate threats to a free and peaceful world. Her guiding mantra, "the good of the many outweighs the good of the one," allowed her to rationalize, and to lead, a double life--a physician in one world, and a covert assassin in another.
Now, Dr. Robinson is asked to assassinate a high-level Chinese missile scientist who is on course to sell his novel technology to the North Korean government. Unbeknownst to Lily, Grigory Markovic, a Russian terrorist Lily has encountered in the past, is also planning an arms deal with the North Koreans--warheads filled with deadly poison.
The Power of Poison is a tale of espionage, love, relationships, and loyalty, all meeting at the "intersection of obligation and conscience." And whether it's Boston, France, Seoul, or Hong Kong, as always, Dr. Lily Robinson is "dressed to kill."
Magnani engages the reader from the start with scenarios that are grounded in reality. The technical aspects are accurate, visual images are painted with precision, and the characters' emotions draw in the reader. The storyline is entwined with a secondary plot involving the characters' past history and relationships. I especially enjoyed that the reader is often made aware of past events in the lives of characters prior to the character learning of these events. This allows the reader to speculate on how the character might react--I was often surprised. This novel entertains, informs, and serves up food for thought.
The story is timely in light of current national and global politics and the balance of power. The escalation of North Korean missile capabilities and the posture of its leader to leverage this to achieve various economic goals, and gain recognition and influence in global matters is concerning. The story also shines a light on the moral and legal issues posed by government-sanctioned targeted killing outside the boundaries of conventional warfare.
This is something Dr. Robinson struggles with but has not yet totally convinced herself that her actions are acceptable in any sphere. Most certainly, her work in this area is at odds with her profession, and the oath that defines the scope of practice. She rationalizes her role in these assassinations with her mantra: "the good of the many outweighs the good of the one."
Magnani gives us a poison tale that will draw readers into global political threats, the powerful emotions that drive us, and a love story on many levels. There are many good things about this novel, and without reservation, I highly recommend it to readers interested in this genre. While the novel could stand alone, first reading "The Queen of All Poisons" will enhance the experience of "The Power of Poison."
-- David J. George, PhD
Author, Poisons: An Introduction for Forensic Investigators
"The science of toxins is well rendered, and Magnani crafts some indelible images... A refreshingly unconventional hero in a fitfully effective thriller." --Kirkus Reviews