Deadly Medicine (Capital Crimes #29), by Donald Bain

Seven stars

Bain continues to carry the torch for Margaret Truman’s long-running series set in the American capital. Jayla King lives a quiet life in DC, working for a pharmaceutical company. When she learns of her father’s death in her native Papua New Guinea (PNG), King rushes back to discover that he has been murdered and the work he has been doing on plant-based pain medicines is ruined. Taking the documentation back with her, King is distraught and unsure if Dr. Preston King’s research could have a place in a drug-laden country like the United States. Dr. King’s assistant, Eugene Waksit, has the same feeling and stews over the fact that Jayla took all her father’s research, leaving him nothing, though he was a key player throughout the research gathering in PNG. Waksit begins an elaborate plan to make his way to Washington and peddle what he feels is rightfully his. Local authorities begin to piece together what might have happened to Dr. King, learning that an American company, Alard Associates, sent someone to commit the crime and burn the crops before they could be harvested. Back in DC, Jayla approached Mac Smith to assist her with the legal conundrums of moving forward with her father’s research and liaising with a PNG attorney surrounding her father’s probate. Private Investigator Robert Brixton, who works extensively with Smith, learns of Jayla’s concerns and agrees to help where he can. He is, however, in the middle of an investigation for a journalist friend of his, tracking down some leads related to a US Senator who procured an abortion for a teenage girl through a high-powered lobbyist with ties to the pharmaceutical community. The deeper that Brixton digs, the more he learns, both about the abortion and about a shady company, Alard Associates. When Smith and Jayla share their news about Dr. King’s killer, everything comes together and Brixton tries to package the two investigations together. Waksit arrives in DC and targets Jayla, stealing the research before trying to sell it to the highest bidder, though its primitive nature makes it harder to offload, which leads the researcher to take drastic actions. As the novel reaches its climax, Brixton takes a significant gamble in the investigation, one that could cost people their lives, as Washington elite will do anything to protect a precious reputation. Bain does a wonderful job at spinning this tale that takes the political drama of Washington and turns in on its ear. A decent addition to the long-running series that might even impress Margaret Truman herself.

I have been a fan of Truman and this series for as long as I can remember. I recall revelling in all the adventures that Mac Smith found himself. With the passing of Margaret Truman, I was sure the series would come to a close, but Donald Bain stepped in and took the reins. While he introduced Robert Brixton and wrestled the role of protagonist away from Mac Smith, the lawyer has not vanished from the pages of the series, but settled nicely into a more background position (though this novel defies that role). Bain is able to present cogent plots, still dripping wth political intrigue, and a cast of excellent characters, all of whom somehow befriend Mac Smith. The story moves effectively without dragging but keeping many storylines developing throughout. Even a personal angle on Robert Brixton as he continues to deal with the ‘murder’ of his daughter keeps the readers hooked on the backstories as they develop. The series is in good hands for the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Mr. Bain on another stellar piece of writing. I am sure Truman would applaud your effort as you pursue new and interesting perspectives for the reader to enjoy.