Los Alamos, by Joseph Kanon

Cover ImageFinished 2-2-08, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 1998

 It’s 1945 and Los Alamos is the the heart of scientific discovery.  The Manhattan Project has been working on the atomic bomb that will end the war when the murder of a security officer worries those in charge of the project’s secrecy.  Michael o is called in to find out what happened and make sure there are no leaks at Los Alamos.  His investigation takes him to neighboring Santa Fe and the lonely areas surrounding it. 

This book is a murder mystery, but because of it’s setting it is much more.  Kanon delves into the ethics of making the bomb, paranoia, homophobia in the military, and communism, while still keeping the story a mystery at heart.  There is also a surprising love affair and I enjoyed the realistic grit of it. 

Some of the characters, Robert Oppenheimer, General Leslie Groves and others, are based on the actual people working on the project.  This is a wonderful blending of reality and fiction.  This is Kanon’s first novel and I was impressed.  This is a great read for mystery lovers or those interested in the Manhattan Project.