Toxic by Jackie McLeanToxic by Jackie McLean is the first book in the Donna Davenport Mystery Series.

After the devastating chemical disaster in 1984 in Bhopal, India, there is no way anyone would have thought that the deadly toxin MIC would eventually end up in Scotland. On a quiet Tayside farmland, this dangerous gas is being stored illegally by a notorious criminal gang. This gang is smuggling in the MIC to earn a profit from it because this deadly gas is used to manufacture cheap pesticides and it is in high demand.

Detective Inspector Donna Davenport is a talented officer and she is going through a rough patch in her life. She is trying to keep a secret from her police comrades and deal with an intense break-up from her lover. In the midst of all this, Donna is in deep trouble with her boss for revealing too much information to the media.

When Donna thought her life couldn’t get any worse, she gets to work on the MIC investigation with a misogynist for a partner and his reputation as a brute precedes him. Can she place her trust in her new partner? Will she be able to find the MIC and put an end to the illegal smuggling before all hell breaks loose in Dundee?

The Characters

Donna Davenport is an eccentric detective who plays by her own rules to get to the bottom of the illegal distribution of a very toxic chemical called Methyl Isocyanate (MIC). She has to fight against high-class corruption and her own inner demons that threaten to overcome her. Donna puts on a tough and indifferent act but she possesses a huge heart. Her imperfections endeared her to me because she is often misunderstood by the people who are closest to her. Even though she made numerous errors, Donna always seeks to make amends as quickly as possible.

Dr. Libby Quinn works at a university in Dundee that collects data, researches and produces academic papers on toxic chemicals. I admire Libby’s quick-witted intelligence. She does not take situations or people at face value and she uses this ability to try to uncover the person behind the MIC scare. She is a very kind-hearted, sensitive and loving woman who is always willing to extend a hand to assist friends, family, and even total strangers.

The Writing Style

At first, the switching back and forth between Donna Davenport, Jonas Evanton, Libby Quinn, and Sally Chisholm had me a bit confused for a while. I soon caught on though and I began to understand why the author wrote like this. Jackie McLean created an intricate plot that kept me ensnared in the story. I really enjoyed reading about the detailed landscape of Dundee, Scotland.

The Pros

I was very happy to see the loving support that was given to a character who suffers from a mental disorder. In addition, I enjoyed the tight-knit community interactions and the way friends and families protected and supported each other.

The Cons

There are graphic scenes that contain murder, assault and rape.

The Conclusion

This book surpassed my expectations and this story made me a huge fan of Jackie McLean! This story is full of cloak and dagger intrigue, with twists and turns that will leave you astonished. I can assure you that this novel will grip your attention and have you begging for more. Fortunately, this book does have a sequel so your desire for more will definitely be satisfied.

Excerpt from Toxic by Jackie McLean

Protective clothing, gas masks, police tape, flashing blue lights, coughing, shouting, people running to and fro, stretchers, panic and chaos.

Among all of this, Sally watched, astonished, as a squat middle-aged man simply walked away from the scene, his head bowed into his coat collar.

Five gears were entirely inadequate for the speed at which Donna raced along the dual carriageway, and the brake pads suffered enormously as she pulled up near The Bampot. The scene before her was chaotic, and more blue lights than she thought existed in this part of the country flashed the length of the small town’s main street. Darkness had descended an hour ago, bringing with it a biting cold, and the blue lights added to the morgue-like chill in the air.

She could see police tape marking an inner cordon already, and there were personnel in chemical suits beginning their work inside it. Also just inside the cordon, where they definitely should not have been, she could see a rabble of casually clothed people-the press pack. A large number of civilians, inadequately wrapped against the cold, were staggering into one another around the cordon, kept at bay by angry shouts from uniformed officers assigned to bring control to the area.

She ran along the street towards the epicentre, and spotted Ross standing talking with the Chief Fire Officer and Chief Superintendant Lawson beside the cordon. A sizeable crowd of onlookers had gathered by now, jostling each other in their anxiety to know what was going on.

Ross had already seen her, and made his way toward her, his face grim.

“An ambulance was called at 20:15,” he said, drawing close to her ear. “People in the restaurant were choking. The paramedics felt it was no ordinary A and E matter. They called in Fire and Rescue, who made a preliminary assessment of the premises, but there’s no gas leak, so the Chief Fire Officer made it a CBRN. SEPA investigating officers are on their way up. There’s a chance this could be related to the MIC matter, but we can’t confirm yet, so let’s not jump the gun. Some substance has caused the choking, and we need to find out what it is. That’s all we’ve got.” He threw his hands up in the air. “The Press are here already.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9780957568990
  • Publisher: ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd

Jackie McLean Online 

Note: I received a free review copy of Toxic by Jackie McLean. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

About the author

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My name is April Adams and I am an accountant at a civil service office. Even though I read a wide variety of lesbian fiction, I enjoy mystery and thriller books the most because I love the state of suspense the stories have me in until the end and I find out “who’s done it.”