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Los Alamos.

Los Alamos. - Joseph Kanon 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 more 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 more 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.