Christine Poulson’s earlier novel, Invisible, combined effortless page-turning with subtle characterisation, and her new book is a worthy successor. Deep Water may cheekily filch the title of a Patricia Highsmith novel, but demonstrates once again the skill and psychological understanding of Poulson’s writing.

Patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont is commissioned by the heavyweight biotech company Calliope and quickly finds himself in the eponymous ‘deep water’. His predecessor at the company is dead, and a lab journal with crucial information has gone astray. Daniel has a personal interest – he and his wife Rachel are living in hope that biotechnology will find a way to cure the genetic disorder afflicting their daughter. Simultaneously, researcher Kate Flanagan suspects that dark dealings are in play in the company’s laboratories, and her life is (unsurprisingly) soon on the line. There is an echo here of such Robin Cook medical thrillers as Coma (with its notably Cook-like heroine finding the company she works for is up to no good), but Poulson is very much her own woman, and has a strong grasp of the exigencies of the medical novel of suspense. As well as maintaining the tension throughout the 200-odd pages here, her writing is both sharp and elegant, more so than most current entries in the crime field where workaday prose is all too common. Deep Water is a novel that certainly deserves to do well.

Deep Water by Christine Poulson Lion 9781782642145

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