The plot of Los Alamos hinges on a fictional protagonist, civilian intelligence liaison Michael Connolly, brought in to investigate the murder of a Los Alamos security officer, his face bashed in and his pants pulled down Connolly is asked to discover whether the crime is than the violent sex crime it appears to be, even while those associated with the project paranoid over security leaks and the specter of Communists everywhere would prefer it be just that Nice and tidy Of course it isn t nice and tidy, and Connolly s dogged determination to pursue the truth to the bitter end, no matter how bitter it turns out to be, carries him through acts of betrayal from all sides and his own growing interest and eventual affair with the wife of one of the Los Alamos scientists.The setting, in both New Mexico and Los Alamos, is very detailed and well researched The most enjoyable aspect in many ways is the interaction between Connolly as a fictional character with the real life Oppenheimer and General Groves, woven together neatly within the framework of the events leading up to the Trinity test in the desert on that fateful day on July 16, 1945.To be honest, the plot is fairly easy to figure out, at times almost taking a back seat to the setting Some readers might quibble with the love interest feeling a bit unnecessary, and a few of the local characters lean a tad toward the cliched The restless and impatient readers may get a bit bogged down in Kanon s occasionally dense prose not I, though , but he has some nice evocations of the tug of war of emotions that existed between the project s scientists and their almost abstract view of the war and the ultimate horror of the project s true purpose. Nice little thriller that has some unexpected twists and turns Love the unexpected things that pop up The historical aspect was so interesting, especially the spy and security stuff If you ve ever been to Albuquerque, you can easily imagine most of the scenes and the Southwestern architecture Joseph Kanon was an editor for years and it shows What a great background for a writer I hope he writes many. A Successful Thriller Tells An Exciting, Satisfying Story And Lets Us Look At The Lives Of Some Interesting People In An Environment Either Totally New Or Freshly Observed Former Publishing Executive Joseph Kanon S First Novel Does All Of That, And Adds A Layer Of Acute Perception About Recent History That Immediately Vaults It Up Into The Hallowed Heights Of John Le Carre S Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy And Charles McCarry S The Tears Of Autumn Thrillers That Deserve Space Next To Tolstoy And Dostoyevsky In The Spring Of , As The War In Europe Is Coming To An End, A Former Police Reporter Turned Army Intelligence Agent Named Mike Connolly Arrives On The High Mesa Above Santa Fe, New Mexico, Where J Robert Oppenheimer And A Team Of Scientists Are Rushing To Finish Their Atomic Bomb A Security Man Has Been Found Battered To Death, And Connolly S Job Is To See If It Is Anything Than The Sordid Sex Crime It Appears To Be Using A Devilishly Clever Mixture Of Real And Fictional Characters, Kanon Spins Out A Story That Manages To Be Audacious, Persuasive And Totally Engrossing This is a novel that combines historical fiction with a murder mystery with an added side dish of espionage thriller It takes place in 1945 Los Alamos, the home of the top secret Manhattan Project and the birth place of the atomic bomb The plot follows Michael Connolly, assigned to investigate the disappearance and death of a security officer on The Hill His investigation leads him through the very secret nature of the town site of Los Alamos and the surrounding area, the scientific community, possible traitorous activity among the scientists, and into the arms of a married woman.I was drawn to this novel because I grew up in Los Alamos I lived there for six wondrous years, from grade 7 through 12 I am a proud graduate of Los Alamos High School and I was very interested to see if this novel got the feel of the place right Of course I wasn t there in 1945 and much had changed from that time but I felt, overall, the author did a fairly good job of that He dropped a lot of local place names like Ashley Pond, Fuller Lodge, route 4 up to Valle Grande, etc The characters also spend a lot of time in Santa Fe, as was entirely appropriate given the secret location of the Manhattan project itself Ultimately though I was mildly disappointed with this one The murder mystery wasn t entirely compelling and far too much time was spent on the romance aspects So much so that in the end, this was a story about a man driven into the arms of a married woman and their love affair than it was about anything else The espionage twists in the second half of the book improved my perspective quite a bit but it was a case of too little too late There was also an attempt at some sort of existential comparison of unleashing the forces of fission to finding true love It s not that they found it but that it was waiting to be found.My final criticism was the length of the novel Several parts simply dragged on too long It would have been a much better and tighter read at 100 pages less than its current 517 But still, it had its moments I am definitely wishy washy about this one which explains my middle of the road 3 star rating. It s not that the coincidence of 70 years, since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred this August.It s not that the President and Secretary of State just completed negotiations with Iran on the use of nuclear materials for other than peaceful purposesIt s not that we have millions of Syrian regugees streaming out of the Middle East headed for Germany, to escape sure death at the hands of the dictator leader of their country.It s not that we have the wackiest Presidential election campaign going on, ever It s that this little book seems to tie it altogether in a flashback glimpse to another horrible time.when we built the first bomb, with the help of immigrant European scientists, who have a decidedly different outlook on world affairs than the average American And a confused, but focused guy manages to solve a murder mystery, while witnessing this poignant moment in history And it s that, I finished reading it on 9 11 15, the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in NYC..so reminiscent of the Pearl Harbor attack.that we speak of them as the two greatest attacks on the USA, ever.The author manages to give us a lot to think about..why did we use it the bomb Just because we built it Oh dear, that puts us and the Iranians in the same category. I cannot praise Kanon highly enough His books have yet to fail me The storylines have a sort of familiarity about them, as if they have come over into print from the film universe of the 1950s a black and white, comfortable America but constantly living in a haze of suspicion Romance and intrigue, the Manhatten project and Anasazi ruins what could one ask for Tense, satisfying read As a child of war my 1st birthday celebration Hiroshima, and I can remember being awakened very early one morning to see a purplish flash on the south eastern horizon from a test at Trinity, 1,000 miles away I have always wondered about the Los Alamos story the secrecy, the people, the incredible tension between the scientific challenge of making the gadget work, and the dire consequences of making the gadget work The presence herein of believable real characters, Oppie, Teller, Groves some of whom I met as a child of UCBerkeley folk was thrilling Miraculously well researched by someone who knows and loves the southwest.Aside from all that, this is a good story well told That tension between pure science and deadly application creates a fog or uncertainties and mysteries that the author handles well Always in the third person, nevertheless we see into the protagonist s state of mind, becoming impressionistic and scattered toward the end as the tension builds to a satisfying climax. 3 1 2 I was entranced by the old style feel of this book Three rays of sunshine past noir, the read is gripping Some violence, some sex, some intrique and lots of mysteries Mike Connolly is a great protagonist and the New Mexico lab where nuclear weapons were first developed is an even greater setting Working within and without the Army barricades is no problem for our Mike, but getting the right spin turns out to be harder than imagined We are lucky enough to be along for the ride Good stuff. I had read that Kanon s writing is similar to that of Alan Furst a favorite author , so I thought I d give Kanon a try He s not anywhere near Furst Once I got past my disappointment, I continued with the book and found it wordy with a pretty simple plot The dialogue between the main character and his new girlfriend is the most stilted I ve read in quite some time Then the main character, just a minor security agent for some US agency, is going to protect Oppenheimer sorry, Oppie from the commie hunters out to get him Not a very good book Furst has a new book out that should put Kanon out of my mind. To those to whom names like Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, and Lawrence ring a bell, as well as those for whom Trinity tolls, Los Alamos is a terrific period piece Naturally, it is set in the latter years of WWII in the midst of those working on the Manhattan Project Karon s feel for the period is outstanding The unnamed effort at the Daily Worker, the funeral of Roosevelt along with its attendant uneasiness about Truman s unknown quantity, and the reality that the European expatriates at the site were concerned about the Nazis than the Imperial Japanese are perfectly nuanced, as is the rare air conditioned locale and the slothful performance of rural law enforcement officers local speed trap and all It was also news to me that all of the scientists and families had local identification printed up with no names just numbers.The set up features a former reporter who is brought in by the commander of the site to investigate the murder of one of the agents in security Circumstances point to a homosexual hate crime and a man confesses to the murder, but things don t seem to fit right for former reporter Michael Connelly He keeps investigating until he uncovers his patron s worst fears The murder is not what it seems.The mystery doesn t offer a lot of red herrings The clues are all set up very nicely The beauty of this book is found in its characterization The protagonist is a reporter who has to know the truth, but isn t as concerned with doing the truth The commanding officer seems borderline schizophrenic, but induces a certain amount of sympathy in the end Enlisted men try to bear their burdens and long for the time when their tour of duty is over Yet, several have moral dilemmas whether of their own making as in the homosexual or of another s as in Mills trying to do his duty Karon s style is straight forward, but is slightly ornate than one s standard mystery novel A lot of the book takes place inside Connelly s head, but much of the exposition takes place in very realistic conversation The all too human betrayals, lies, and fears are worth considering and the book was solid enough that I m looking forward to reading Karon s novel of the Red scare in the 50s If you don t like the period, you won t enjoy the mystery, but if you re fascinated by the mid 20th century like me, considering I was born at the halfway mark , you re sure to find this a page turner.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Los Alamos book, this is one of the most wanted Joseph Kanon author readers around the world.
- 416 pages
- Los Alamos
- Joseph Kanon
- 15 September 2019 Joseph Kanon