Spring 1945.  As work on the first atomic bomb nears completion on a remote mesa in New Mexico, Karl Bruner, a Manhattan Project security officer, is found murdered in nearby Santa Fe.  Is Bruner the victim of a violent sexual encounter, as the local police believe, or is his death a crime that threatens to jeopardize the secret of the Project itself?  This is the mainspring of Joseph Kanon’s Los Alamos, a supremely original and romantic new thriller that re-creates the most compelling real-life drama of this century.

Michael Connolly, the intelligence officer brought in to crack Bruner’s case—and then make it disappear—soon discovers that investigating a murder in Los Alamos is anything but routine.  In a town so secret it does not officially exist, he must thread his way through a makeshift community of displaced ÚmigrÚs, soldiers, and idealistic scientists for whom murder is, at best, an unwelcome intrusion as they race to end a brutal war.  Only when Connolly falls in love and begins an affair with Emma, the enigmatic wife of one of the scientists, does he truly begin to unravel the past associations, tangled sex lives, and conflicting morality at the dark heart of the Project.

Interweaving fact and fiction, Los Alamos is at once a powerful novel of historical intrigue and a vivid portrait of those involved in the Manhattan Project: Robert Oppenheimer, its charismatic scientific director; General Groves, its blunt Army commander; and the brilliant team of scientists whose work would change the world forever.  Like the invention at its core, Los Alamos is about fusion—of loyalty and betrayal, idealism and guilt—and its deadly aftermath.  Elegantly written and deftly constructed, Los Alamos marks the emergence of a major new storytelling talent.

“A well-plotted novel that effortlessly dissolves real people and events into an elegant and moving thriller.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The suspense novel for all others to beat…[a] must-read.”—Denver Post

“Compelling…[Kanon] pulls the reader into a historical drama of excitement and high moral seriousness.”The New York Times

“This utterly compelling first novel by former publishing executive Kanon seamlessly interweaves historical fact with a superbly constructed plot  .. For readers who have tackled Richard Rhodes’ magisterial Making of the Atomic Bomb (1987), the ultimate nonfiction account of the scientific and political implications of the Manhattan Project, Kanon’s infinitely entertaining novel makes the perfect dessert course. It captures the historical moment with palpable ambience and unquestionable authenticity, and its combination of spy and love stories not only adds drama but also calls into bold relief the human ambiguities that are at the heart of our audacious but potentially Faustian dance with atomic energy. Booklist

 “A well-plotted novel that effortlessly dissolves real people and events into an elegant and moving thriller.”San Francisco Chronicle

“a smashing debut … 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. 

– Publishers Weekly

” Read this book…it’s a love story inside a murder mystery inside perhaps the most significant story of the twentieth century: the making of the atomic bomb…A magnificent work of fiction…A stunning achievement.”

–John Ellis, The Boston Globe