A Quiet Contagion

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Pub Date 27 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023

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Six decades. Seven people. One unspeakable secret.

1957. A catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen-year-old Wilf is working for the summer. A catastrophe that needs to be covered up at all costs.

2017. Phiney is shocked by the death of her grandfather, Wilf, who has jumped from a railway bridge at a Coventry station. Journalist Mat Torrington is the only witness.

Left with a swarm of unanswered questions, Phiney, Mat and Wilf's wife, Dora, begin their own enquiries into Wilf's death. It is soon clear that these two events, sixty years apart, are connected - and that Wilf is not the only casualty.

But what is the link? And can they find out before any more lives are lost?

A Quiet Contagion is a powerfully disquieting mystery for modern times, inspired by the 1957 Coventry polio epidemic as well as the more recent global coronavirus pandemic.


'An original voice in crime fiction' - Sunday Times on Cut Adrift (A Best Crime Novel of 2023)

'Jesmond's delineation of her characters as people with plausible flaws and hot tempers adds depth and complexity to a story that might wear its sentiments on its sleeves, yet which is trimly steered and freighted with contemporary resonance' - Times on Cut Adrift (Thriller Book of the Month)

'In an over-saturated market, finding a new voice with something compelling to say in the crime writing field can be difficult. Thankfully there are people out there trying to deliver a twist on the genre, and Jane Jesmond is one of them' - On Yorkshire Magazine on Cut Adrift

'This amazing debut novel from Jane Jesmond will give you all the thrills you've been looking for and keep you gripped from the get-go' - Female First on On The Edge

'Evocative, compelling and pulse-pounding' - Philippa East on On The Edge

Six decades. Seven people. One unspeakable secret.

1957. A catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen-year-old Wilf is working for the summer. A catastrophe that needs to...

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ISBN 9780857308498
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Featured Reviews

“For the greater good” could have been the title of this book, as the main characters find out more and more of an incident that happened 60 years ago at a pharmaceutical company and the actions taken afterwards. The story is told from the standpoint of the main characters and mainly relate to the incident 60 years ago and the days following the complete shock of Phiney’s grandfather Wilf’s suicide. Other people connected to the company die and Phiney and Wilf’s second wife Dora who do not get on are forced to spend time together to try to work out if the death of Wilf and the others are connected to the old incident and if so why.
Wilf had childhood polio and Coventry had a polio epidemic at that time. This is a recurring theme in the book and having a medical background I found the descriptions of the disease well researched.
I feel that the book works well in two fronts. Mainly as a fast paced thriller in unearthing secrets of the past and later on in the book thinking about the ethics of focusing on a community based model of healthcare which does not always lead to good outcome for all individuals.
Ironically the dilemma faced by the lab in the past is similar to the situation Phiney , friend Meghan, Dora and reporter Mat find themselves in when they discover the truth.
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this novel.

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This is a fast paced thriller mixed with some hard-hitting realism. I liked how well researched this book obviously was and that it explores ethics surrounding the medical industry which is obviously a very current topic. I loved the suspenseful atmosphere that was created and seeing all the characters go through moral dilemmas after finding out the truth. Overall I think this is a strong mystery/thriller.

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‘A Quiet Contagion’ is fictitious but it could have happened. An incident in 1957 leads to a lifetime of secrets for some, huge consequences for those affected and danger for those trying to piece it all together. There is just enough background to the main characters to keep the story fresh without being bogged down in too much navel gazing. It was easy to imagine the various locations where the action takes place. I enjoyed the story not least because I have a sister in law with polio born around the time to which the book refers. It gave me some insight into the process of eradicating the disease. Thank you NetGalley for the pre-publication edition.

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An inventive thriller with a good narrative pull, jumping between 1957 when an accident occurs to 2017 when an elderly man's family tries to understand why he took his own life with no warning. Being in medicine myself and having just come through the Covid pandemic I think the question at the core of the book is a very important one to consider, especially as we see the public's trust in the medical system and experts declining (if I were to define the question at hand it would give away too much of the book!). The characters were enjoyable, and you couldn't help but root for the protagonists, even if it was clear what the mystery was quite early in the book. A good fast-paced summer read and it's always refreshing to see a crime story that doesn't center around a body.

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This mystery thriller has an unusual and inventive theme. Focussing on a real medical crisis when poliomyelitis - polio- broke out in UK in 1957, and involved a race against time to get as many children vaccinated in as short a time as possible. The dual timeline takes us to 2017, and Phiney’s heartbreak and confusion when her beloved grandfather takes his own life, with no warning or obvious reason.
Her efforts to find out what went on in the laboratory making vaccine at that time, leads to a fast paced, involved search for the truth, leading Phiney herself to take too many risks with her own safety.
At the heart of it all is the 1957 equivalent of ‘big pharma’ and their desire to increase profits being their number one goal. The parallels with contemporary themes is striking.
The book is extremely well written, drawing the reader into the convoluted mystery of why other deaths ensue, in the days following that of Wilf, Phiney’s grandfather.
The author has clearly researched the subject of polio extensively. I’m old enough to remember the panic of parents to get we children vaccinated immediately, as three doses fairly close together were required for best chance of immunity. I recall photos in newspapers of children and adults in horrific- looking iron lungs. There were several children in my junior school who wore callipers due to having a paralysed and wasted leg.
This story took me right back to those nervy times. It was hard to put this book down.
The similarities to the recent Covid pandemic were all too real.
An excellent read, highly recommended.
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance copy of this book.

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Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Quick read, well written. It’s a fiction thriller that feels very believable and I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this has actually happened. Really enjoyed all the characters in the book. It moved between two timelines seamlessly and it was easy to keep track. Well paced. Lots of discussion around vaccination which is a hot topic but pretty amazing that polio was eradicated in many countries due to the vaccination program. Lots of ethical dilemmas discussed as it pertains to vaccination and when the characters in this time line are faced with the same choices they hesitated. Recommended.

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Jumping between the late 50's and 2017 this book explores the way a secret covered up ahs affected the lives of a handful of people and their wider community. Hard to review without giving away the plot the book is actually quite slow paced but still keeps you turning the pages as you seek first to have your suspicions confirmed and then the facts revealed.
A great and thought provoking read.

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I was so excited to read Jane Jesmond’s new book!

It is so different to Her but in all the best ways! A change of pace and a story that really could be happening behind the scenes (and obviously historically did)

Love, friendship and turmoil all in one place - you will definitely enjoy this!

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"A Quiet Contagion" is an interesting, thought provoking read. Very easy to read, set in the 1950´s and the present day, you are introduced to medical ethics and how terrifying polo was. A good, enjoyable summer read.

My thanks to NetGalley and Verve Books for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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I’ll be perfectly honest in that this isn’t the kind of book I would normally jump up to read but this really surprised me,

The two-timeline storytelling flowed perfectly, there was no pace splitting and the story was told beautifully.

Whilst fictional, you could see this happening today.

This was my first look into this authors works and I’ll be looking into the others as this really did keep me hooked.

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I am so impressed! Every chance I got, I was sneaking in a few pages of this thrilling book… Gripped my attention in a way not many books do

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“A Quiet Contagion” by Jane Jesmond is an inventive thriller that weaves together a dark history, medical ethics, and fast-paced mystery into an engrossing novel. At its core, the narrative revolves around an incident 60 years ago at a pharmaceutical company and the subsequent fallout, including the suicide of Phiney’s grandfather, Wilf. Jesmond skilfully builds a suspenseful atmosphere as Phiney and others connected to the company dig into the past to unravel the truth.

A dual timeline structure, jumping between 1957 and 2017, adds to the complexity of the story and heightens the intrigue. This format offers readers a comprehensive view of both the incident itself and its repercussions, allowing the narrative to explore not only the secrets of the past but also the question of healthcare ethics in community-based models.

One of the standout aspects of the novel is its well-researched descriptions of polio and the epidemic that ravaged the UK in 1957. The portrayal of the disease, rooted in the author’s medical knowledge, brings authenticity to the story. It serves as both a recurring theme and a stark reminder of the challenges faced in a real medical crisis. This aspect draws parallels between the past and the present, resonating with contemporary themes such as the recent Covid pandemic.

Developed characterisation enables the reader to relate to them and the relationships they have formed. From Phiney’s determination to unravel the mystery, to the moral dilemmas faced by her friends and family, each character’s personal struggle adds depth to the novel. The ethical questions posed are both timely and thought-provoking, prompting readers to reflect on the current state of the medical industry.

The pace of the book is swift, and the narrative pulls the reader along easily. Though the mystery might become clear early on for some readers, it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. The unique storyline, which focuses on polio and the pharmaceutical industry instead of typical crime or murder, gives the thriller genre a fresh perspective.

The author manages to recreate the palpable anxiety and panic of those times, especially for those who lived through similar experiences, adds to the book’s appeal. A detailed portrayal of the era and depiction of characters affected by polio creates a vivid and unsettling atmosphere.

In conclusion, “A Quiet Contagion” is a strong mystery thriller that considers the vital issues in healthcare and ethics. Its combination of historical facts, engaging characters, and intense suspense makes it not just an exciting summer read but a novel that provokes deeper reflection. Jesmond’s expertise in writing and research culminates in an excellent read, offering a unique perspective on issues that continue to resonate in today’s world. It’s a highly recommended book for those who appreciate a thrilling yet thoughtful narrative.

#AQuietContagion #NetGalley.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Verve Books for providing me with and ARC.

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very well written dual pov book about a fictionalised disaster regarding the polio outbreak in Coventry in the 1900s.
it follows Phiney Whistman and her grandfather/his colleagues as we discover why her grandfather killed himself so suddenly, and why it all appears to be linked to a pharmaceutical company and a select few coworkers he was working with during the summer of 1957.

I really enjoyed this book, it was really interesting to see a new sector of history I've never thought about before; and to see how an epidemic with such devastating consequences affected not only the children that were first infected, but also their descendants and the wider population for years thereafter.
I very much enjoyed the thriller / mystery aspect of it as well, having to wait to the next chapter for a pov switch to get more clues as to the greater mystery kept me hooked and the terrifying plausibility of the reveal just made it even spookier!

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A fatal error has occurred in a lab working on a new vaccine. Should the problem be hushed up in order to maintain public confidence and safeguard the greater good? And if so, how far should the people responsible for the cover-up go in order to maintain their secret? Lying, bribery, blackmail or even murder?
In A Quiet Contagion, these questions arise not from the recent pandemic but from a story inspired by the 1957 outbreak of polio in Coventry. This terrifying disease particularly affects children and a fictional drugs company in the town is rushing to step up vaccine production. In 2017, sixty years after the ‘incident’ at the heart of A Quiet Contagion, Wilf, a polio survivor and beloved grandfather of a young nurse, Phiney, takes his own life. But Phiney can’t accept this explanation for his death. And when other sudden deaths emerge among Wilf’s former colleagues at the same Coventry pharmaceutical lab, Phiney, along with local journalist Mat, begin to wonder whether there might be a connection. The story moves to 1957 when polio is ravaging Coventry’s children and the race is on to immunise at all costs. But by 2017, the desperate consequences of excessive haste in vaccine development finally begin to unravel.
Unusually for a novel with a dual timeline, Jane Jesmond’s chapters set in the past are every bit as engaging as those told by Phiney in 2017. The writing is beautifully balanced between humour and grief, page-turning suspense and ethical dilemma. An author’s note explains that the pharmaceutical storyline, though fictional, is based on a real incident in the US in 1955. It also reveals, astonishingly, that the novel was started before ‘any of us had ever heard the word ‘Covid’.’ Yet the central theme of openness during a public health emergency is compellingly current. The enigmatic journalist, Mat says “people deserve to be told the truth and make their own minds up.” Yet as A Quiet Contagion makes devastatingly clear, in a time of disease, as in war, the truth can be both elusive and deeply dangerous.
This compulsive thriller blends real events with a clever fictional plot. Thoughtful, topical and gripping, A Quiet Contagion is bound to win Jane Jesmond even more acclaim.

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This is a story based around the polio epidemic in Coventry in the 50s. Mis-management and poor decisions lead to devastating consequences. What has remained a secret for all those years is about to be uncovered, but someone is so determined to keep it jmgidden that they will do whatever it takes. Even murder.
A great book, that feels completely real. After covid, I've come across a lot of books about pandemics and epidemics that are quite far fetched, and usually lead to a post apocalyptic world. This, however, is really understated and well explained. The characters are believable, their actions are believable. I really enjoyed it. It had a good amount of mystery and suspense, and a really exciting ending.

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Phiney is a nurse working with her long time friend Meg. Her beloved grandfather Wilf dies suddenly, a suicide, which is a surprise and she contacts Mat, a journalist who saw her grandfather die. Phiney is then drawn into an incident surrounding the development of a polio vaccine that happened decades before, when Wilf worked briefly with his father for a local firm. However, it seems the incident is having more repercussions as other people connected with that firm in the 1950s also die. Mat is a journalist and decides to help Phiney find out what happened, in the hope of a good story. Instead they are involved in a scheme to ensure the past remains covered up, and someone is willing to kill to keep their secrets.

The result raises questions about ethics, about whether covering up an action that had bad results is better if it protects others in the future. Its a good read, and I enjoyed it.

Thank you to NetGalley, The Crime and Mystery Club and Verve Books for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this extremely well researched thriller set around a polio outbreak in Enland in the late 1950's. Told in a dual timeline, 1957 and 2017, the mystery runs through the book and keeps developing as each layer is uncovered. Jane Jesmond's characters and their relationships are so well written, especially Phiney and Dora's. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for allowing me to read an arc of what was definitely one of my best reads of 2023.

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This book caught my attention as it relates to the polio epidemic in the 1950s which I remember well and which my husband was unfortunate enough to catch. The story flits between timezones as Phiney tries to solve the question as to why her beloved grandfather, a victim of polio, threw himself off a bridge 60 years after contracting it. She slowly uncovers a history of pharmaceutical errors and cover ups which have plagued the lives of those involved. This is my first book by Jane Jesmond but I doubt it will be my last. The tension is maintained throughout as the plot is revealed bit by tiny bit. An excellent read. 5*
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy. All opinions are my own.

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I really enjoyed this book. It had me hooked right from the beginning. In fact it had me hooked just from the book description. “Inspired by the 1957 Coventry polio epidemic” and “a catastrophe surrounding a pharmaceutical company” grabbed me straight away. I like anything with a medical background to it. Add to that a cover-up by pharma, and I knew this book was going to be right up my street.

What I wasn’t expecting though was the emotional aspect, the poignancy that flows through the story. Phiney is shocked and distressed when she learns of her grandfather’s death. He had looked after her and brought her up after her mother died of cancer. She couldn’t understand why he would take his own life. It is partly because Phiney can’t believe her grandad would do that, just suddenly leave her and his wife Dora that she goes to find the only witness, a journalist Mat who witnessed the incident at a railway station.

From there we the reader, as well as Mat, Dora and Phiney are taken on, at times, a daunting journey of discovery to find out why there are so many secrets surrounding Wilf’s death.

There are many twists and turns, revelations, and a constant drip, drip of suspense with the mystery of what happened at the pharmaceutical lab all those years ago being a constant throughout the book, almost to the end. I loved the tension in it, and the ongoing mystery which keeps you turning the pages. As I got further on in the book I thought it would make for an excellent book club read with so much to discuss, so was interested to see there is indeed a list of questions for a book club discussion at the end of the book. (A note to the wise for readers of the book, don’t go to the back and look at the questions until you’ve read it, or you’ll spoil the whole story for yourself). It really is a tense, thrilling read, but I’ve tried to keep my thoughts to a minimum for fear of saying too much and spoiling it for potential readers.

I absolutely loved it and will be recommending it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

**To be posted to blog around publication date.**

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I thoroughly enjoyed this inventive thriller. The story was very interesting and kept me wanting to read more. The main premise of the book is based around medical ethics, historical interest and secrets. The book has a core group of characters that blended really well. I particularly loved how Phinney and Dora’s relationship developed throughout the story. A highly entertaining story that I would definitely recommend. I have given it 5 stars.

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Oh what a brilliant read this was from start to finish I was completely absorbed and my only complaint is that it had to end !
I absolutely loved the characters they were so well written and the relationship between Phiney and Dora and how it changed was just so wonderful. The humour in the book was also something that was really well done and worked really along side the quite difficult subject matter they was at the heart of the read. The author I think did an excellent and skilful job of weaving a story through different timelines and characters and I never felt lost in what could have been a complicated story line. I have no hesitation in giving the book 5 stars it really does deserve more it was one of those reads that I will remember for a long time and many thanks to Jane Jesmond it was superb.
My thanks also to NetGalley and The Crime and Mystery Club, Verve Books for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Prior to picking up this book, I was unaware of the polio epidemic in Coventry during the 1950s following a series of supply issues that had led to a shortage of the new polio vaccine….. Given the ongoing investigations into the COVID pandemic, this story has a timely resonance!
This was an engaging read, the characters were vividly portrayed, the plot held my interest. A recommended read.

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A clever, well researched novel centered on an outbreak of Polio in 1957 in Coventry and the Pharmaceutical company that made the vaccine. Told in a dual timeline, it makes an exciting thriller as mistakes made then come back to haunt 2017.
The mystery develops throughout the novel which keeps the suspense building as people connected to the company die, maybe naturally, maybe murdered. The historical detail is spot on and there is a moral element as well. The characters hunting for the truth are well done too. I loved the difficult relationship between Phiney and her Step Grandmother which develops. Altogether an intelligent novel which I very much enjoyed and which still lingers - always a good sign. Recommended.

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This is one of those books that you look forward to reading the next chapter and then just have to keep going……
I am old enough to remember the polio epidemic and news films about kids in iron lungs and wearing callipers so I enjoyed the historic details. The crime aspect is well handled and kept me guessing almost to the end. All-in-all a very enjoyable read and the first novel by Jane Jesmond I have come across - I will be looking for more!

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A Quiet Contagion is a masterpiece, a thriller through and through whereby I was always kept guessing as to what the secret that the 6 staff members of Poulter's pharmaceuticals were keeping and why people were dying due to it.

I found Phiney to be a wonderful protagonist, I was truly worried for her and rooting for her in equal measure. The book is well written and had me turning pages deep into the night. The cast of characters around her were colourful and believable. Mat, the quiet, unassuming journalist. Dora, Phiney's staid and sensible step-grandmother, wife to Phiney's beloved grandfather Wilf, who dies early on in the story and Meghan, Phiney's best friend and nurse colleague.

Does the secret come out, or have too many people died and taken any evidence with them?

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good page-turner to keep them company until the early hours.

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I found the author Jane Jesmond through Amazon Reads and loved ‘Her’ so I was excited to read her new title. It was an engaging read that keeps the reader thrilled throughout!

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I've enjoyed all three of Jesmond's previous books and so I thought A Quiet Contagion would be a shoe in as well. And I wasn't disappointed. While this was a quieter book that her Jen Shaw thrillers and lacked the supernatural chill of Her, AQC was full of mystery, historical twists and turns and quiet creeping dread. A medical chiller that was so well researched and depicted, it could have really happened. Phiney isn't an especially likeable character, at least initially. Her fixation with healthiness is understandable but also comes with a lot of judgemental thoughts and behaviour. She also seems to keep everyone at arm's length, again understandable behaviour given how many people have died on her but as a combination, it doesn't make her especially engaging. However, I am a big fan of not holding female characters to an impossible standard and letting them be whole flawed people, which is definitely what's going on here. Anyway, Phiney is waiting on some sensitive news and a different set of bad news hits her out of the blue. Her beloved grandfather has killed himself in a move so totally out of character, it's left her and her step grandmother reeling. Convinced there must have been foul play. The more the unlikely team of Phiney, her best friend, her grandfather's widow and a reporter who was the only witness of the suicide scratch at the surface, the more pieces fall away to reveal a very dark picture indeed. A cover up worth killing for. Overall this was clever and fast paced. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Absolutely superb! A fantastic mystery, set in the past and present, about the polio epidemic of the 1950's and a pharmaceutical company manufacturing the vaccine. The repercussions of their actions at the time rippling through to present day. Plenty of twists and turns to keep the story moving along nicely. Really enjoyed this.
Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Tense thriller beginning with the suicide of Wilf Patterson, a much loved Grandfather and husband. He'd suffered with polio all his life but this was totally out of character; he was happy, loved . One witness saw what happened - a journalist called Matt. Phiney his Grandaughter is determined to find out more - but can she and Wilf's wife Dora trust this journalist?
The only clue Phiney has to work with is an old news story with photo of Wilf and colleagues outside the Poulters Pharmacy Company in Coventry from 1957 - which Wilf had left out on a table top in his workshed. Why? Another death on the same day of someone else in the photo raises more suspicion. Then another.
Fascinating look at moral dilemnas (separate from greed, though that is also here).This is fiction but the 'Cutter Incident' in the US 1955 was not (don't look that up if you don't want spoilers). Loved this - it was very exciting and at points a bit too wordy (or was that just me getting too excited!!) Highly recommended.

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Thanks to #NetGalley and publishers for an #ARC of #AQuietContagion.
Oh WOW, that was the feeling while reading and finishing reading this book. Based in Coventry in the 1950s and 2017 we try to discover the mystery behind what happened which caused one man to take his own life.
As the story unravels it becomes more gripping and thrilling.
Highly recommend.

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A Quiet Contagion is a compelling thriller inspired by the 1957 Coventry polio epidemic.

With a split timeline and multiple perspectives, Jesmond builds a gripping mystery full of twists and turns to keep you guessing. For a high-stakes thriller, I love that it centres on some fairly 'normal' characters - there are no international spies or supervillains here. The protagonist Phiney is a grumpy young nurse, with a stubborn streak that makes her a formidable detective. It makes the mystery all the more believable - especially as Jesmond explores the moral complexity at the heart of the story. The Coventry setting also feels wonderfully real - although I may be biased being local myself!

Tense and thought-provoking, A Quiet Contagion makes for a compulsive read.

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I am not a fan of dual timelines set so long apart, in this case 1957 to 2017. In Coventry there was a secret covered up which affected the lives of a handful of people and a wider community.

There are certain parallels to the recent Covid outbreaks (and the revelations in the UK's Covid inquiry currently taking place).

Lots going on, but there is a great chance to give away too many spoilers. The book title helps!

I enjoyed it.

Thanks to Net Galley and Crime and Mystery Club for the chance to read and review.

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When Phiney’s grandfather commits suicide, she can’t believe it wasn’t an accident, until she meets Matt, the journalist who witnessed him jumping off the bridge. She needs to know why and with the help of Matt and Dora, her step-nan, begins to dig. She uncovers long-held secrets and a lifetime of guilt linked to Berkswell House, the former home of a pharmaceuticals company.
This was a chilling read, particularly in the light of historic and recent world events. A great read from Jane Jesmond!

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I really enjoyed this book. In 1957 a catastrophe happened at a pharmaceutical company in Coventry where 16 year old Wilf was working for the summer. What happened needed to be covered up at all costs. In 2017 Wilf jumps from a railway bridge after a meeting in Coventry. The only witness is a journalist, Mat. Together with Wilf's granddaughter Phiney and his widow, Dora, Mat is determined to get to the truth. This is a real page turner that will keep you guessing to the end.
Thanks to NetGalley for a preview copy.
Copied to Goodreads.

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This was definitely different to other books I've read which kept me hooked. The twists and turns were able to keep me gripped too.

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Gripping and convincing.
This novel turned out to be much better than I expected. Smooth reading experience, flawless writing style, characters with their own personality, and a plot that's intriguing and convincing. Add to it the fact, that most of the events take place in a close to my heart place - Derbyshire and it´s almost perfect.
On the downside, it´s somehow disappointing, that the author decided to go with the flow and throw in the gay and trans part. It does feel like there can be no film or a book without LGBT these days. I don´t mind, but is this really necessary?

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As someone from the Midlands, I really felt connected to this book being based in Coventry. This was also the first time I have heard about the Coventry Polio epidemic! This book was fast-paced, I flew through it and never got bored. The twists were excellent and for the majority of the book I did not see where it was going! Great mystery and suspense book. I look forward to reading more books by Jane Jesmond.

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Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read 'A Quiet Contagion'. I did not know about the polio epidemic in Coventry during the 1950s and was fascinated to learn about it as the setting for this thriller.

The characters were well-described and the plot was interesting and fast paced. The story was very plausible and with the current investigations into the COVID pandemic, it is quite topical.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a quick read which will keep you hooked.

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So, the best part was how well thought of & well researched the book is. Upon reading this, as a young non-American, I also get to learn about polio pandemics that happened half a century ago, about the Coventry polio epidemic & about the Cutter incident. I like how in the end the author give notes & more insights on the event and tell us the author works carefully treading the details as they highlight this topic to become a work of fiction.

Now, I went in expecting a thriller & crime mystery--which was what the book is about, sure. But it also, has the feeling of historical fiction to it. Was it intended? Perhaps not (or maybe?) but I wonder if it comes across that way too for other readers or the author. There were some subplots & plot reveal that felt..? I'm sure it wasn't intended that way, but the way it's delivered, it somehow appears like it's a filler. I wish to explore a bit more about Phiney's medical condition & test result because of the built up to it; but the second it was out, the subplot was dropped immediately: resolved abruptly & vanish into thin air. As for how most of the people responsible to the incident & scandal conveniently die, the ending left me hanging & unsatisfied. So what happened to them? Sure the police won't investigate, but which death were indeed accidents as it is, did Wilf end his own life or was he (and the rest) murdered? How about Harry, and Phiney's being pushed in early part of the book?

So many questions was intrigued in me but I find so little answer, I wish the reader could have deeper conclusion to all this mess. But quite a good one. I appreciate the sentiment on writing a book based on such important event. Thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for allowing me an early read through the eARC.

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I didn’t really know what to expect from this, thinking it was going to be some mad outbreak. Without revealing too much, Scientists were working on a vaccine in the 50s and made a deadly mistake. The grand daughter of one of the ‘group’ set out to solve the mystery after her grandfather died very suddenly.

A recommended read.

Thanks to #netgalley for this #ARC

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A novel about the polio outbreak in 1957 and how the country reacted.
O f course there is more to it than that and two timelines take this further and make a mystery and ethical drama from it.
I didn't know about the polio incident of the 1950s and found this fascinating. Very sadly reminiscent of the recent covid vaccine saga.

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Really enjoyed this book. Spent time moving between the past and present and delving into the ins and outs of what really happened back then.

Strangely, I drew parallels with what happened during the covid pandemic - so almost putting a different lens on the story.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this and would recommended it.

Thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book. #AQuietContagion

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A Quiet Contagion

I was introduced to Jane Jesmond’s writing by a blog tour and I thoroughly enjoyed her series, the most recent of which was Cut Adrift - a novel I reviewed earlier this year. A Quiet Contagion is a very inventive stand-alone thriller that brings together a dark history and medical ethics for a fast paced and well-researched mystery. and fast-paced mystery into an engrossing novel. Phiney’s grandfather Wilf, committed suicide after an incident at a pharmaceutical company. Using a dual timeline narrative we jump between 1957 and 2017 to uncover the truth around work to find a vaccine during the polio epidemic. The author combines the tension of a thriller with extensive historical research to unearth the secrets of the past and ask questions about healthcare ethics in public health emergencies.

There are obviously parallels to the the COVID epidemic here, including lessons that still haven’t been learned, but the author grounds her narrative very successfully in the historic sections. Having had oxygen therapy for MS, I’m very aware of the use of hyperbaric chambers and the antiquated ‘iron lungs’ that were used to treat polio patients in the 1950s. I thought the descriptions of the epidemic were outstanding, really bringing home to the reader the terrible truth of a disease most people younger than me have ever seen. I’ve met people with post-polio syndrome and there’s no denying the life-long effects of this terrible disease. The author’s medical knowledge brings the epidemic to life but also brings an authenticity to the characters affected by this disease.

I thought the challenges faced in a real medical crisis were well-presented and illuminating, resonating particularly with contemporary issues around the COVID pandemic, such as the race against time to produce a vaccine and get as many vulnerable people vaccinated as soon as possible. We can see the origins of ‘big pharma’ with profit becoming the main goal, rather than public health. I don’t know if the author used the recent pandemic to inform her character’s thoughts and feelings, but the anxiety and panic felt very real and timely. 

The novel’s characters were well-developed and felt thoroughly grounded in her world. Phiney’s determination to unravel the mystery and understand what happened to her beloved grandfather is admirable, but I worried that she was taking too many risks in her search for the truth. I enjoyed the moral dilemmas faced by her friends and family too. The struggles of character added so much depth to the novel but we’re also thought provoking, and I love it when I find myself thinking about a book days later. Many thrillers are all action and feel empty, but this is an intelligent thriller full of emotion. This combination made it hard to put down and equally hard to forget.

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I enjoyed this book. It had a complex interesting storyline was fast paced and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The book had a great start first couple of chapters had me quickly enthralled . A young woman discovers that her grandfather apparently had committed suicide by jumping off a railway bridge. He is family had no idea that he was. A suicide risk and his granddaughter therefore starts to investigate why he decided he needed to do this.
There is a thoroughly satisfying mystery element of the novel with a strange, dark figure lurking in the bushes adding to the excitement. The author really does have the skill of feeding you little tantalising clues as the novel progresses.
The sections set in the children’s ward with the nurse are very realistic ,is the author a nurse ?
The characters all or seem real three-dimensional people .
They also has a lovely prose style, which moves the story on at a fast pace and kept my interest throughout.

I thought that the book, would make the most fabulous TV series. I hope the right are bought up quickly .
I read an early copy of the novel on NetGalley UK. The book is published in the UK on the 28th of November 2023 by the crime and mystery club verve books.

This review will appear on NetGalley UK, good reads and my book blog bionicsarahsbooksa@wordpress.com. After publication review would appear on Amazon, UK.

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•Dual Timelines
•Inspired by the 1957 Coventry Polio Epidemic
•Most Recent Global Coronavirus Pandemic
•Pharmaceutical Mystery

The writing is compelling , mystery is gripping and the characters have such a poignant back stories. It was such a touching and emotional read. And it’s inspired by 1957, Coventry Polio Epidemic and Global Coronavirus pandemic. There is history of deaths in family and then people are dying because of a perilous secret. The secret has kept many lives at stake. It must be unraveled. The book is well researched.

In 2017, Wilf has committed suicide, Phiney, his granddaughter and Dora, his wife is shocked to learn about his death. While it’s both; devastating and mysterious for them. Was Wilf harbouring a secret? What happens that he choose to take such a big step to end his life? They are trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of his death. There is only one witness, unanswered questions, and inevitable mystery and secrets. Though the 1957 catastrophic event seems to have some connection with the death of Wilf. Will they get to the bottom of mystery and unravel the secret before it’s too late?

Thank you Publisher, Author, and Netgalley.

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