Up in Smoke by Ross Pennie

up in smokeAs Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Zol Szabo is called to Simcoe Ontario to investigate a series of sudden liver failures leading to death in groups of seemingly unrelated high school students and fire fighters.  His inquiries lead to the nearby native reserve and the ready supply of contraband cigarettes sold in roadside smoke shacks.   Zol and his investigators must work quickly to find the factor triggering the deaths, while protecting their families from the organized crime syndicate controlling the illegal and contaminated tobacco supply.

What the Armchair Critics Thought:

As the book was set in Simcoe, Hamilton and Toronto, we got a real kick out of all the local streets and locations.  It was fun to think about what coffee shop on Concession Street Zol was visiting.  The Escarpment Cable van was a huge red flag to those of us from the area!  The story was perhaps a little slow to start, but it built to a satisfying conclusion.  The presence of easily available and cheap contraband cigarettes is a serious public health issue in Southern Ontario, and the author does a great job of weaving the medical facts into the dialogue without bogging down the story. 


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