Stealing Thunder

Peter Millar, Author
Peter Millar, Author Bloomsbury Publishing PLC $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-58234-016-6
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-58234-071-5
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-0-7475-4583-5
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Millar is a veteran English journalist, and his first novel, a highly complicated political thriller spanning 50 years, has the virtues and faults common to journalists' fiction: lots of authentic details, a gripping ""what if"" thesis, but a certain woodenness of characterization, and dialogue that is no more than basically serviceable. Eamonn Burke is a cynical, hard-drinking London journalist whose interest is piqued when Sabine, a beautiful young German magazine writer, seeks his experienced help on what looks like a fascinating assignment: was the atom spy Klaus Fuchs really murdered in his exile in East Germany, and if so, why? What exactly were the secrets he purloined from Los Alamos? And what happened to an American bomber reported missing long after WWII hostilities had ceased? Millar has created out of these elements a tale of monumental duplicity that involves the highest levels of the British and U.S. governments, elements of the SS and even Albert Einstein, in the closing days of the war and during the uneasy peace that followed. The action zips around in a variety of exotic and well-rendered locations, including Iceland, as it becomes apparent that someone dangerous is out to prevent Eamonn and Sabine from getting at the truth. There is too much confusing movement back and forth in time and, toward the breakneck finish at a Munich monastery, too many bombshells exploding too close together for the reader to hang on to more than the general gist of the plot. The novel isn't dull, but a more experienced author might have given the story more variety of pace, more moments of relaxation--and a more credible windup. (Feb.)
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