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Los Alamos

A Novel
Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 émigrés, 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.

©1997 Joseph Kanon (P)1997 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The atmospherics are exactly right: Los Alamos brings back an era when a secret was really a secret and a lie wasn't necessarily a sin." (Entertainment Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • JOSEPH
  • Fort Wayne, IN, United States
  • 12-14-12

Terrible sound quality

What would have made Los Alamos better?

The enhanced audio was poorly executed

Any additional comments?

This recording sounds like it was mastered from cassette tape

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Gena
  • bloomington, IN, United States
  • 01-16-12

Poor sound quality

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The sound quality is quite poor. This is the first time I've had such an issue with Audible downloads, but I didn't listen to the entire book because of that.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Los Alamos with distracting annoying music

Good story about interesting historical period. However, the music is both distracting and annoying as it sounds off tune most of the time and adds little to the "atmosphere".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars

Los Alamos

Annoying sound effects.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good, but...

I agree that the plot is well done and interesting, but lets lose the annoying background "music" that obscures the words at chapter breaks. Otherwise well read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JH
  • 07-19-09

Great period piece, first rate narrator

Complex and believable WWII era story with the development of the atomic bomb as a backdrop. The two main characters are engaging and adequately life-like that you care what happens to them. Lots of twists, and I could find no internal contradictions. I am surprised at the low ratings given by others - I suspect they were looking for something else. From my point of view, narrator Edward Herman simply reading a random newspaper story would get a score to at least 3 stars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars

Los Alamos

Decent book. Suspenseful and historically interesting.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Class Crime Writing and Superb Historical Fiction

I always read historical fiction with a degree of dread that at any moment the work will descend into a superficial gloss of actual events. We're always just happening upon some heretofore unknown figure as he or she is about to make a discovery or take an action that will change the course of humankind. In LOS ALAMOS, Joseph Kanon avoids the pitfalls of the genre by diving headlong into a setting where encounters with titanic figures and momentous events aren't so much coincidental as inevitable.

Set during the final stages of the Manhattan Project, LOS ALAMOS is both classic crime writing and superb historical fiction. Kanon has clearly done extensive research into the personalities and activities that led to the development of the atomic bomb, but he uses that background knowledge judiciously. Rather than being compelled to trot out every fact worth noting about Los Alamos, Kanon respects the reader's intelligence and only uses details that are relevant to the narrative. He introduces people and reports events in a way that suggests that he expects us to have some prior familiarity with them. I'm anything but an expert on the era in question, but his portrait of Robert Oppenheimer as a high-strung, slightly aloof personality feels credible.

IMPORTANT: As many have noted, the sound quality of this recording is execrable, and the music transitions at chapter breaks is horribly distorted. Even so, I would hate for listeners to be turned away from this audiobook because of these limitations. There is a silver lining to the fact that this is an old recording: Edward Herrmann's performance is the kind of commanding voice that we seldom hear anymore. He projects a tone of confident masculinity that today has given way to bombast and bluster. He does very well with accents, the only drawback being that female characters tend to sound a tad like men in drag.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Almost ruined by poor production quality.

Good story, good narrator voice but this is obviously a reboot of a very old edition and the production quality is lousy. This one needs a redo, audible!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

kind of boring

Very odd background noises. Old time radio narration. plot weak. gratuitous sex scenes...but not too graphic. would not recommend it.