Green Books Campaign: Tainted by Ross Pennie

10 Nov

I’m happy to once again be a part of Eco-Libris’ Green Books Campaign. Today at 1 pm Est over 200 book bloggers around the world simultaneously posted reviews of books printed on eco-friendly paper. Pretty cool, eh? The books are as diverse as the bloggers, so make sure to take a peek at them. And to make it easy-peasy for you, here’s the link.

Okay, now on to my review!

Publisher: ECW Press
Released: April, 2009
Genre: adult fiction, medical mystery
Review copy from publisher for Eco-Libris Green Books Campaign

In an affluent city perched on Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, residents begin turning up on the pathologist’s autopsy table with what looks like epidemic mad cow disease. Zol Szabo, a public-health doctor and former chef, and Hamish Wakefield, a young infectious-diseases specialist, must trace the epidemic to its source while dodging the deadly prions that appear to have contaminated almost everything in the supermarket. Things spin out of control and more lives are threatened when a government-appointed investigator pulls rank, hijacks the investigation, and allows his inflated ego to supersede common sense.

Incidents of contamination of the food supply are featured almost weekly in the news. In Tainted, the clock is ticking to discover the source of the disease before it can spread, while navigating the political minefield of the hospital and the media.

A suspenseful and vexing medical thriller, Tainted comments on the vagaries of modern medicine, and explores the complexities of relationships between men: fathers and sons, colleagues and subordinates, gay men and their lovers.

Tainted is a medical thriller that illustrates the potential disastrous consequences of misplacing our trust in those who manufacture our food and our pharmaceuticals.

From ECW Press website.


Once upon a time, all I read were medical thrillers and books about outbreaks. I would devour them, sometimes as many as four in a week. Then I kinda ODed on them and stopped reading them all together. In fact, it’s been a good three or four years since I read a real medical thriller.

So I was all kinds of excited to read Ross Pennie’s Tainted, a medical mystery outbreak novel that takes place right here in Canada. And while I enjoyed it and I think it was a solid book, I wasn’t wowed by it.

I really enjoyed the medical mystery aspect of Tainted. The science wasn’t too over my head, but it also wasn’t too dumb down.  At first I thought the reason behind the outbreak was going to be pretty straight-forward, but man, was I wrong. While I didn’t see the ending coming, it wasn’t far-fetched and was totally plausible, which I really liked. Sometimes in medical mysteries the author pulls something out of left field that makes no sense at all. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here, at all.

So, why was I so meh about Tainted? The characters. I just didn’t get a sense of who they were and quite honestly I didn’t care a fig about any of them. For me they weren’t written in a way that I could really feel a connection to them. I was often confused about their motivations and reasonings, even when it was being spelled out for me. I know that medical mysteries aren’t generally character driven books, but if I don’t care at all about ANY of the characters, then I’m not going to be a big fan of the novel.

I also found the writing at times clunky with awkward descriptions. There was also a subplot that I thought was a bit out of place and poorly executed.

I think if I had felt more of a connection to the characters I would have enjoyed Tainted a lot more. As it stands it was a decent medical mystery, but not one I was wild about.


3 Responses to “Green Books Campaign: Tainted by Ross Pennie”

  1. amymckie November 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Too bad this book didn’t do more for you, but I’m glad you liked parts of it at least 🙂

  2. sagustocox November 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    sorry these characters didn’t keep you engaged in the story

  3. Ryan November 12, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    It’s a bummer that this book didn’t do it for you. I think that the mystery genre can be a narrow niche sometimes. I checked out this one mystery book recently, Mojo by Kris Sedersten, and it surprised me completely. I definitely have decided to give books in the thriller/mystery genre a chance. I’d recommend Mojo for sure.

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