The Rise of the Chemist by Nathan Parker #BookReview #BlogTour

Granville is in a mess once more.

The streets are infested with Charge, a deadly synthetic drug concocted by an enigma known as The Chemist. Tommy finds himself in the midst of scandal yet again, as terrifying danger closes in on him; drugs, deaths and deception. After hitting a rocky patch with Kirsten and things at home as tricky as ever, Tommy feels as though he is invisible. But when Detective Brightwell calls upon his help in cracking the case, Tommy is immediately immersed into the Granville underworld, with the key surely lying with infamous crime family, the O’Clearys. With the threat of Smiler looming, trustworthy people are hard to find. So who can he count on this time to help him muddle through this impossible situation?

The Rise of the Chemist is the second book in the Granville Series, sequel to The Disappearance of Timothy Dawson. It is a young adult fiction book, following Tommy’s difficult battle for justice, in a town where crime rules. A series of teenage deaths triggered by a deadly synthetic drug, thrusts Tommy into the midst of an undercover operation. The targets? The Chemist, creator of the lethal, designer substance known as Charge, and the O’Clearys, a local crime family with their fingers in all kinds of illicit pies. With one eye looking over his shoulder for the threat of Smiler (book one), Tommy must decide between what is right and what is easy. With complications arising with Kirsten, and the relentless drive of Detective Brightwell, he finds himself questioning everybody and everything. Once injected into the O’Cleary family, Tommy comes face to face with a harsh, brutal reality, which he scrambles to escape from.

But is it too late? Will Tommy find a way out? Will Granville ever be safe from Charge?

Find out in The Rise of the Chemist. 

It's my pleasure to be opening the blog tour for The Rise of the Chemist today. Many thanks to Nathan Parker and Sarah Hardy from BOTBS Publicity for inviting me and for sending me a digital copy of the book.

The Rise of the Chemist is the second book in Nathan Parker's Granville Series and takes place a few months after the events in the previous novel, The Disappearance of Timothy Dawson. Although it's not strictly necessary to read that one first, I would advise doing so if possible to due to the unavoidable spoilers in this sequel.
Tommy Dawson could be excused for expecting life to settle down after his recent devastating experiences but although he is now at college, he doesn't to have found much to be happy about at the start of the book. He feels at outsider at the college, his mum is still using drugs and perhaps worst of all, he has drifted apart from his best friend, Kirsten.
The excellent sense of place ensured that I could easily picture exactly what the fictional town of Granville is is like; a deprived Northern town where young people leave school with little hope, leading to a rise in youth crime and drug use. Tommy's mum and older brother, Derek are both heroin addicts but a new legal high, Charge has become the drug of choice of the local teenagers and is cutting a deadly swathe through the town's young population. After Tommy witnesses another life being cut short, he is approached by Detective Brightwell who believes he may be ideally placed to infiltrate a local crime family, the O'Clearys, who he believes are responsible for distributing Charge. Brightwell also hopes that the O'Clearys will lead them to the person manufacturing the synthetic drug who is only known by the name, The Chemist. I sympathised throughout with Tommy's understandable fears that The Chemist is linked to his nemesis, Smiler and that if he becomes a grass, he'll put his family and Kirsten in danger.
It might be a little bit of a stretch to accept that a police officer would enrol a seventeen-year-old boy into a dangerous undercover operation but it's worth it as it leads to an intriguing and gritty urban thriller. With its predominantly young cast of characters and the exploration of subjects perhaps particularly pertinent to that age group, The Rise of the Chemist is a topical, relevant YA drama.
I must admit however, to feeling that the contemporary plot is dated by the pop culture references - there is a mention of 'This is Your Life' and the songs featured are at least twenty years old. While I can believe that Tommy may have different tastes to many of his peers, I think the inclusion of a few more modern tunes would make the story even more relevant to younger readers. I also found the prose to be somewhat overwrought at times and the book would have benefited from further editing just to improve the overall flow of the story. 
That said, Nathan Parker definitely understands the importance of writing characters that readers care about. Tommy is such an engaging, relatable protagonist and I was rooting for him the whole time. He faces some agonising dilemmas and truly shocking revelations and I loved the relationship he has with Kirsten who is as determined and principled as he is. Not everybody in the novel is as likeable, of course but those who are deeply troubled are described with empathetic and honest insight while the villains of the story are suitably menacing. 
The Rise of the Chemist is an exciting, emotional thriller with plenty of twists and turns and I'm sure that this is an author who will just keep getting better. The dramatic conclusion to this instalment has certainly ensured I'm keen to read more!

The Rise of the Chemist can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author 

My name is Nathan Parker, a 32-year-old father of one from Blackpool, Lancashire. I’m recently married to my beautiful wife, Nadina, so beautiful in fact, let’s just say it’s a good job I have my sense of humour to rely on. Family has always been central to my universe, but since becoming a dad I feel as though life makes far more sense than it used to. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with Sonny, my son who is 18 months old – watching him develop and learn brings me a joy I never thought was possible. With any luck, one child may become two – or more – as the years go by.

I’m proud of the fact I was born and raised, schooled and now live and work in sunny Blackpool. Despite its perception as a town with challenges – a perception which is accurate on many fronts – in my thirty-two years I have seen and experienced community, resilience, strength and good times in this town.

I am a Youth Worker by trade, graduating from Canterbury Christ Church University with a first-class BA honours degree in Youth Work and Community Learning and Development. For ten plus years I have worked alongside young people experiencing some of life’s toughest challenges and, although now working at a strategic level, I work hard to support and empower the young people of Blackpool and the Fylde Coast to create their own stories, with informed choices, broadening horizons and challenging inequality within the systems young people are bound.

My journey into writing began officially in 2017 when I was tasked with making a creative pledge to myself, to write it down and tell the workshop within which the task was set – which I’ve since learned meant I was 90% more likely to see it through… sneaky devils!

The pledge I set myself was to write a short story. Fast forward 12 months and I self-published my first novel; The Disappearance of Timothy Dawson, The First Book in the Granville Series. A fictional ‘anytown’ but certainly shaped from my knowledge of Blackpool.

The book enabled me to tell a story which was burning inside me; a tale inspired by personal and professional experiences told with realism through a world of fiction. My writing style is to take real life adversity, emotion and grit and weave it into stories filled with twists and turns, relatable characters and places which feel familiar to most.

I would say I’ve always loved to read, which wouldn’t be too far from the truth. I began my childhood as an avid reader, although it wasn’t the classics which hooked me in – ten year old Nathan was more of a Goosebumps fan. And I still read now; with a common, nightly routine of a few chapters before bed. My current read is Michael Connelly’s The Poet. 

However, there was a huge void in my teens. A black hole within which books, reading and writing didn’t feature. School, Sports, Friendships, Hormones, whatever it was, I stopped reading and it wasn’t until my dad encouraged me to read again in my early twenties to help address a sleeping problem that I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird and fell in love with books all over again. 

Truth is, I believe if the stories I write were available to fifteen-year-old me, I never would have stopped reading. I needed real life, I needed danger and I needed topical issues which explained life to me – adversity, relationships, risk and reward. This is what I strive for in my writing. I have been privileged in many ways in my life, but I have also seen and experienced challenges which I seek to harness and weave into my writing, so that one day a young reader may pick up my book and find connection, comfort or hope.

My debut novel The Disappearance of Timothy Dawson was shortlisted for Lancashire Book of the Year 2019, a feat which I am so very proud of.

The best part? The book prompted young people – young men in particular – to become passionate about reading. Am I the most qualified, technical writer in the world? Certainly not. But I believe my stories are raw, relatable and real and there is a gap in the young adult fiction market, which needs filling. 

I’m currently working on the second book in the series and am enjoying working alongside schools, delivering talks and workshops to students looking at motivating the next generation to pick up a pen, or a book and allow their minds to wander.


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