Sunday, March 30, 2008

Staff Recommendation - Los Alamos

Los Alamos
by Joseph Kanon

The time is Spring 1945. The place is Santa Fe, New Mexico. The victim is Karl Brunner, a security officer at the Los Alamos compound near Santa Fe. Both the Santa Fe police and the security at Los Alamos would like this homicide to turn out to be just what it appears, a sexual encounter that turned violent and then deadly. But they must make sure the murder has absolutely nothing to do with the secret project at Los Alamos. In fact, the project is so secret that the town of Los Alamos and the Los Alamos compound do not officially exist. In order for the project to remain on the fasttrack, this murder must be solved and solved quickly. Since the Santa Fe police cannot investigate at a place that doesn't officially exist, Michael Connelly is brought in from the Office of War Information in D.C. to investigate at Los Alamos and to act as a liaison with the local police. It is a daunting task. The Los Alamos compound contains over 4000 people, civilian and military. Connelly must deal with a core group of people who have been largely isolated from the outside world. Contact with the outside world would distract them from their work and would present unwelcome security risks. Indeed, Los Alamos has become a very strange community in itself. The friction between the United States Army, who run the project, and the scientists, who work to build the atomic bomb, is pervasive. Each group understands the need for the other group but it is like oil and water in many aspects. And so, Los Alamos has its picnics and its evening parties where the residents socialize rather superficially while the focus on the goal of the project, to bring the war to an end, draws them into an uneasy intimacy. Were the secrets of Los Alamos being leaked to the outside world by the security guard who was murdered? Was it for money or to warn the world of the terrible weapon nearing completion? Can we trust the scientists? Most are recent immigrants to the United States who were forced to flee their European homelands. Does a safe haven guarantee loyalty? And what of the United States' military allies? Have they been apprised about the secret weapon or are they playing the unsuspected friend while they secretly maneuver ever closer to that unofficial spot on the map called Los Alamos? -- recommended by Evelyn D. - Bennett Martin Public Library/Technical Processes

[ official Los Alamos page on the official Joseph Kanon web site ]

Have you read this one? What did you think?
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