During the demolition of a factory, a shocking discovery is made: a mummified corpse encased in a carapace of hardened dust – phosphate rock – surrounded by ten objects that provide tantalising clues as to its identity…
A professional engineer with forty years of international manufacturing experience, Fiona Erskine’s first graduate job was in the factory described in Phosphate Rocks. Born in Edinburgh, Fiona grew up riding motorbikes and jumping into cold water. After studying chemical engineering at university, she learned to weld, cast and machine with apprentices in Paisley. As a professional engineer she has worked and travelled internationally and is now based in the North East of England. Her first novel, The Chemical Detective, which was shortlisted for the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award 2020, was followed by The Chemical Reaction.
My thoughts: this was really interesting in several different ways. As well as solving the death and putting a name to the body found beneath the old chemical factory, each object becomes the story of the men and women who worked there, of the chemicals they processed and the machines they used. It was utterly fascinating and so well written that even the science bits were absorbing (I’m not always very good with chemistry).
Inspired by the factory the author started her career in, and the real working men and women of Leith, this is an ode to a different time and the people who lived in it. Bits are very sad and shocking, but I found it utterly engaging and wanted to hear more stories of the various characters who could be found inside the factory gates.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.