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Los Alamos

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,277 ratings  ·  137 reviews
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 Carr ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 14th 2005 by Little, Brown & Company (first published January 1st 1997)
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Community Reviews

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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 ...more
I bought this at a library sale (50 cents!) based on its blurbs alone. And according to those, I thought I'd discovered a better book.

Given that I was both interested in the book's physical location and its temporal setting PLUS quickly found that Kanon has a gift for language, Los Alamos should've been a great read. But it had an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel.

Not interested in murder? How about war? Or espionage? Or the atomic bomb? None of those work for you? What about adultery? Bigamy
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 th ...more
Benjamin Thomas
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 communi ...more
This is a great thriller. It takes place during the World War II and the work or group of scientist who are building an atomic bomb. It was top secret thing but still people start to die. The pace of the story is fluid and natural, the characters are well built and the story itself is thrilling, intriguing and you can't even guess the guilty party until almost the end of the book. Don't you just love people with flaws? This is a great read.
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 i ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has been to Los Alamos
Recommended to Jennifer by: Kelly
Shelves: read-2011
This read like one of those old-fashioned thrillers set in a specific historical period that my parents used to read when I was a kid (and I would often sneak a read when they were done) and that's a compliment actually. Joseph Kanon's novel takes place at the end of the war in Los Alamos where Oppenheimer and his band of scientists are working towards the first real test of the atomic bomb--a moment before the world changed forever.

Michael Connolly, a former NYC reporter and now PR guy for the
Harry Forsdick
I mostly read non-fiction. My issue with fiction is that in the need to create a mood and an environment, fiction moves too slowly for me. And when it does move fast enough, the plot frequently seems contrived and important detail too convenient.

Perhaps after being on vacation for 2 weeks, I have finally slowed down enough to enjoy this piece of fiction. Almost certainly, the author, Joseph Kanon is a good writer who has written a fictionalized story about facts that I am quite familiar with. An
While some authors follow a character over time, involving them in one story after another, Joseph Kanon chooses to write about a given time period in modern history, namely 1945. After enjoying his 2001 novel The Good German, set in recently occupied Berlin in 1945, I took out Los Alamos, his 1997 debut novel that is set in, naturally, Los Alamos NM in the final weeks of the Manhattan Project in the summer of 1945.
In addition to the time period, the books have many elements in common. Both ta
This was the first book of Kanon's that I read, and I was really impressed by the combination of thought and thriller writing that had gone into it. My memory of it is that, when it came to The Bomb, the end justified the means. Or was it the means justified the end? Anyway, The Holocaust justified it all, that's what I remember. Or at least I think that's what I remember. Apart from it being a damn good read.
This was an interesting story about a murder at Los Alamos during the creation of the atomic bomb. I can imagine that the atmosphere was similar to that described in the book. The search for the killer was well told until the end. I won't tell you what it is, but it was so weak that it sort of spoiled the whole book for me.
M.H. Vesseur
Beyond general crime fiction lies the realm of the truly unique authors, those who add something that makes their novels stand apart. I can vouch for “Los Alamos” as being a novel in that special realm. Joseph Kanon has created a completely unique atmosphere, situated at the site where, in the 1940, the atomic bomb was being invented and prepared for its debut at Hiroshima. This author has the knowledge and skill to create a fictional crime story while also presenting us with facts. Los Alamos, ...more
Joseph Kanon uses the murder of a security guard for the Manhattan Project to tell the story of the building of the "gadget" as the scientists referred to the Atom Bomb. Karl Bruner was found in the small town of Santa Fe with his pants pulled down around his legs and his head bashed in. Michael Connolly, a ex-reporter, is sent to Los Alamos to discover if there is a security risk on the Hill. Oppenheimer is head of the team of scientists working on the project and he gives Michael full authorit ...more

It's the height of the Manhattan Project and one of the security officers at Los Alamos is murdered in circumstances which suggest a gay quarrel. But the project's military head wants to cover all possibilities and seconds intelligence officer Mike Connolly, an NYC investigative journalist in peacetime, to check that everything is as the cops think it is and there has been no security breach. Connolly does indeed find the waters are far murkier than anyone had thought possible; and in the proces
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. Kan
David S.
I feel like I have said this before. Something about how every man that lived during World War I is just one Manhattan away from back handing what ever woman is near him. Well unfortunately, the main character in this book is written no differently. I understand that Los Alamos came out in the mid 90's during the resurgence of the hard boiled, womanizing, detective. I guess I am just tired of the character type that is limited in his depth because of his lack of emotion.

Micheal Connelly is that
Sharon Styer
I lived in Santa Fe for 11 years. Los Alamos looms over Santa Fe like a shadow: the spiritual and the aggressor. I was captivated by this historical and emotional portrayals. Why did these bright - brilliant - scientist gather to make such destruction? For the German scientists, Hitler had destroyed their lives. This was their way as scientists to do something to stop him. To do something to show their anger.
And once Hitler surrendered and the bomb was still not completed: do they continue now?
Tracy Tondro
Kanon's first novel is pretty good. But it leans too heavily on noir-detective cliches: tough guy, pretty dame, of course the guy gets hurt in the end, but he drives off into the sunset with nary a word. You wonder if Kanon was consciously trying to imitate Dashiell Hammett.

Still, it shows promise. But no need to read this; skip ahead to Kanon's more recent work, which is so much better.
Harry Jr.
My first and favorite Joseph Kanon novel. Mr. Kanon spins a wonderful yarn about the intrigue and life at Los Alamos, the home of the Manhattan project, with characters from Leslie Grove, Robert Oppenheimer and many emigres from around the world as they develop the atomic bomb. But life is not so simple in a hidden town during the race to develop the bomb in World War II...a great read.
I liked it. I lived though this era that much has been written about. This book and the telling of events seemed real to me. Is it fiction or faction?

Gripes about overstating and inaccuracies may be accurate, but really, who knows? I'm not the expert here and this is supposedly fiction based on events that we think took place. So I accept it for that and found it a good read.
Željko Erceg
Nakon Istanbulskog prolaza potražio sam još ponešto od Kanona. Sad mi je već jasno o kakvom se piscu radi, red sexa, red sapunice, red špijunaže s ogromnim brojem dijaloga. Iako se u određenom trenutku čini 'slatkast', baš onako kako zamišljam ljubavne romane iz novinskih izdanja, thriller zapleti ga 'izvuku' i u konačnici se čitatelj osjeća zadovoljno.
If this book is a New York Times best seller, they must set the bar rather low. At a little over 500 pages, the author should have/could have shortened it by about 200 pages. Instead of getting more interesting, for me anyway, it became more boring. The last 100 pages I just sped read, to get it over with and move on to another book.
Los Alamos, spring of 1945, the atomic bomb under development. A security officer mysteriously dead, and another one brought in to find out why. Great premise, and convincing descriptions of the place and the people, including Robert Oppenheimer, running the project. I wish I could have liked the protagonist; then it would have been a really good book. Unfortunately, he's an arrogant know it all, always having the right guesses, the right answers and leaving his fellow characters as conversatio ...more
SUMMARY: Good thriller. Good introduction to the people behind the atomic bomb.
I recommend this book not only as a thriller, but also to learn about the people that took part in the creation of the atomic bomb. There were many European scientists who had fled Nazi Germany and were willing to help stopping the war. They also became concerned about the use of what they were creating, during and after the war. Some, notably Oppenheimer, were afterwards victims of the post war witch-hunt.
I have rea
Tod Hamilton
Picked this up for a dollar at an ex-library book sale.

Have now read it three times, this is the 4th reading.

Luckily for me, the brain damaged noggin from the racing accident means that I can usually enjoy a book a few times, just as if it was the first time.

EDIT: Again, it just keeps getting better and better, from the 1st page to the last. This time, I had to make myself STOP reading it, so that I could time the ending of the book with an appropriate time.

I don't know if anyone else does that,
The Atomic Bomb story has fascinated me since my first visit to Los Alamos in the early sixties. The museum at the time was rather primitive, but contained original documents and materials pertaining to the research. I then read "Lawrence and Oppenheimer" by N.F. Davis which covers accurately the activities leading up to the realization of the two bombs. This novel by Kanon was doubly interesting, since the author described in detail, the sites on the mesa and in Santa Fe. He inserted into the f ...more
Richard Jespers
Good but doesn’t live up to the hoopla in Publishers Weekly. Good as a whodunit but not much more. Fun to recognize the geography of the area I’ve visited so many times.
An involving suspense novel, historically centered in the last months of the development of the first atomic bomb. A security man on the staff of the Manhattan Project is found dead in a compromising situation. A hook-up gone wrong? Or is something more sinister afoot?

Having recently visited Los Alamos, I feel like Kanon has well-portrayed how life must half been in those early, intense days among the community of scientists/military up on "The Hill." The setting is well-portrayed, the story int
Leopoldo Nuti
Really enjoyed it. After the first half it was really hard to put it down as you want to know how it ends...
Kanon establishes a very believable setting and the mystery plot my grabbed attention. I enjoyed the speculation about the community of scientists and their motivations for being involved in the Manhattan project.

I did find the central characters ability to talk people into things stretched the credibility of the plot, there were just too many people in authority who were willing to go along with his schemes for the sake of the storyline.

In all a satisfying noir murder mystery with tinges hints
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