My Favourite Poison by Anna Blundy

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My Favourite Poison by Anna Blundy

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: When Faith Zanetti, war correspondent, occasional sleuth, and new mother finds herself in the midst of a possible FSB Security Services plot to poison the edgy Russian with whom she is sleeping, she discovers a world that she barely knew existed. A terrific and, at times, hilarious tale with a heroine that can only be described as a journo-James Bond for the noughties.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: December 2008
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 978-0751538564

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First and foremost, I have to say, immediately, before I tell you anything else about this book, that I loved it. LOVED. Every single one of its 256 pages was, for me, an absolute winner. Right, with that off my chest, I can now tell you some more.

The heroine of the tale, Faith Zanetti (affectionately dubbed Eff Zedd), is my kind of girl. War correspondent, drama-magnet and new mother, Faith is a woman that tomboys want to grow up to be like and that men can't help themselves around. Think Lara Croft minus the guns and stupid outfit but with a slasher of a funny bone and you would be part of the way there.

We are in Egypt when Alex Karamzin leaps, quite literally, into Faith's life whilst she is on assignment. He tumbles, disheveled and shouting in Russian, into her lap on the shisha terrace of the Cairo Hilton. He is rambling something about having been followed. Faith, journo extraordinaire, is immediately both intrigued by Alex and, to be honest, more than a little attracted to him. He is, of course, ruggedly handsome, perfectly scarred, edgy and in possession of a set of shoulders that had clearly not shirked their military service. In fact the more Faith gets to know Alex over the course of the next several hours, the more she is captivated by him (in a totally unHarlequin Romance kind of way, you understand), until she is completely sucked in to the whirlwind of adventure that is Alex Karamzin's life.

So naturally, when Alex falls ill, apparently poisoned (we must assume, by the FSB (which used to be called the KGB after it wasn't called the NKVD any more, but, interestingly, Russians now find themselves accidentally saying KGB again. Same old same old)), Faith is in a race against time to try to solve the swirling mysteries that surround Alex. And as she, herself, says, let's face it, scoops were thin on the ground. I was basically spending most of my time either in Cairo police stations, sitting in taxis in a traffic jam on a bridge in astonishing heat, or smoking shishas on the terrace of the Nile Hilton.... I might as well see if Alex's story was something publishable.

My Favourite Poison is indeed an exciting ride. The story whisks you from Cairo to London to Cairo to Moscow and back to Cairo with alacrity, such is the pace of the tale. I laughed loudly in places - Faith's sidekick (for want of a more appropriate phrase), Don, is wonderful; crass, subtle as an air raid and unnecessarily and inappropriately finicky in a way that only photographers can be - he is so not a pap – and in a world where a person can have only one or two close friends, you will come to appreciate him in the same way that Faith does.

Oh, and I must also tell you that the detail - and more specifically the geographical detail - is just perfect (I want to have a better adjective for you than this, though I cannot. It is exactly that. Perfect). I've been to these places and I could practically smell the Khan Al-Khalili through the pages of the book, but even if I hadn't been there, I think I probably would have felt as if I had. It's not that there is sprawling verboseness in Blundy's writing - quite the opposite as the book is sadly only 256 pages long - but that she writes with the precision of a neurosurgeon and the reader is inclined to get the point, rapidly and rapieresquely!

All of the above is without mention of the delicious and unashamed blatancy of the storyline. I have been dying for someone to grab the Litvinenko angle and run with it fictitiously and in My Favourite Poison, Blundy has come up, well, I'd have to say better than, trumps.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was a joy from cover to cover for me and I really love it when that happens!

Given the storyline, I was put in mind somewhat of James Hawes's A White Merc With Fins (well, tenuously anyway - it's all Russian to me!) so if you have enjoyed James Hawes, Gary Shteyngart (The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan) and, bizarrely, Anne Marsella's Remedy, you are going to love this book and most likely Anna Blundy's other Faith Zanetti outings (there are, apparently, lots and I am now on a mission to ensure Santa has all of them on his list: I have been a very good girl this year).

Perhaps, for the sake of completeness, you should go the non-fiction route and take a look at The Terminal Spy, which brings together all of the strands surrounding the murder of emigrant Russian, Litvinenko, by an obscure radioactive isotope in the British capital in 2006. We have reviewed The Terminal Spy, written by the Pulitzer nominated and multi-award winning Alan Cowell, here for you at the Bookbag and I have to tell you that it is a superb read.

Lastly, but by no means the least, we would very much like to thank the publishers, Sphere, for sending this copy to us for review.

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Buy My Favourite Poison by Anna Blundy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Favourite Poison by Anna Blundy at


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