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Los Alamos


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About the Author

Joseph Kanon is the internationally bestselling author of eight novels, which have been published in twenty-four languages, including: Los Alamos, which won the Edgar Award for best first novel, The Good German, which was made into a film starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, The Prodigal Spy, Alibi, which earned Kanon the Hammett Award of the International Association of Crime Writers, Istanbul Passage, and Leaving Berlin. He is also a recipient of the Anne Frank Human Writers Award for his writings on the aftermath of the Holocaust. He lives in New York City with his wife, literary agent Robin Straus. They have two sons.


It's always pleasing to publishing folk when one of their own turns a hand successfully to writing; and there will be general rejoicing that Kanon, former head of trade publishing at Houghton Mifflin, has made a smashing debut as a novelist in what is also Broadway's fictional launch. Los Alamos is the work of a natural writer, an intricately plotted, highly atmospheric and stunningly authentic tale set on the remote New Mexico hilltop near Santa Fe where the scientists of the Manhattan Project are developing the atom bomb during the closing months of WWII. It begins with the discovery of the body of Karl Bruner, a security man on "The Hill," apparently the victim of a homosexual encounter that went badly wrong in a Santa Fe park. Enter Michael Connolly, an Army Intelligence officer called in to see whether Bruner's death involved any security risk in the top-secret installation. He soon becomes involved in the intense, hermetic life of this strange place, populated by earnest, dedicated scientists who have little sense of the dread potential of their planned weapon, other than the fact that it could hasten the end of the war. He also falls for Emma Pawlowski, the dashing, witty and sometimes enigmatic English wife of one of the émigré scientists; and it is a high tribute to Kanon that their romance, which seems at first a diversion, is as appealing and intensely involving as his thriller plot. In any case, nothing is wasted here, and Emma soon plays a highly significant part in Connolly's bold and risky scheme to unmask what seems to be a high-level case of espionage, involving one of the most trusted scientists close to project director J. Robert Oppenheimer himself. Kanon's use of Oppenheimer, General Leslie Groves and some of the other real-life people in the book, is exemplary; he has created characters who are both true to their actual selves and three-dimensional actors in a convincing fiction. His villains are profoundly human and horribly plausible;, the real life-and-death issues of that time and place are thoughtfully set forth;, and the book is crammed with the kind of utterly believable details it would seem impossible for someone who was only a child in 1945 to have created. There is a tingling climax (yes, you do get to see the first bomb go off) and an ending full of the most poignant irony for anyone who remembers what happened later to Oppenheimer. This is a thinking person's thriller that makes wonderful use of, but never cheapens, one of history's more extraordinary moments. $150,000 ad/promo; author tour; foreign rights sold in seven countries; author tour. (May)

Kanon, a former publishing executive, has penned an extraordinarily tight first novel set in Los Alamos during the waning months of World War II. When a Manhattan Project security officer is found murdered, civilian intelligence liaison Michael Connolly is called in to investigate. Reporting directly to project honcho J. Robert Oppenheimer, Connolly wades through a sea of white-coated brainiacs intent on perfecting "the gadget," local yokels who have no idea what the scientists "up on the hill" are up to, and paranoid army officers who obsess over the loyalty of the project's key personnel, most of whom are expatriated Europeans. Kanon seamlessly interweaves historical figures and events into an exciting, plausible scenario. Two caveats: some readers may find that the action builds a bit too slowly; additionally, the romance between Connolly and a scientist's wife seems contrived, at least in the first half of the novel. Still, all fiction collections should have a copy of this.‘Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"

"A magnificent work of fiction . . . It's a love story inside a murder mystery inside perhaps the most significant story of the 20th century: the making of the atomic bomb. . . . A stunning achievement."--The Boston Globe

"Compelling . . . [Joseph Kanon] pulls the reader into a historical drama of excitement and high moral seriousness."--The New York Times "Thrilling . . . Kanon writes with the sure hand of a veteran and does a marvelous job."--The Washington Post Book World "An elegant and moving thriller."--San Francisco Chronicle

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