A HOLE IN TEXAS

Herman Wouk, Author . Little, Brown $25 (278p) ISBN 978-0-316-52590-9

Still working more than 50 years after he won the Pulitzer for The Caine Mutiny , and more than 30 years after The Winds of War , Wouk, now nearly 90, has license to write what he pleases: in this case, a light, sprightly story about lost love, high-energy physics and the machinations of Washington. At 60, physicist Guy Carpenter is happily married and the father of two, including a new baby. In the late 1980s and early '90s, he worked on the Superconducting Super Collider, a gigantic federally funded project in Texas aimed at finding the elusive Higgs bosun subatomic particle. Congress pulled the plug on the SSC in 1993—in real life as well as in the novel—professionally stranding Carpenter and leaving the Higgs bosun undiscovered. Ten years later, Carpenter has gotten his life back in order, but when a group of Chinese scientists publish a paper claiming to have discovered the Higgs bosun, his quiet existence is upended. Not only was Carpenter a key staff member on the SSC, he has sustained a secret romance since graduate school with Wen Mei Li, the chief scientist on the Chinese team. This confluence of circumstances puts Carpenter on the spot with his wife, the media, Congress and possibly the CIA. It also introduces him to a former movie star congresswoman, who's charmed by his intellect and sympathetic to his plight. The plot is busy but secondary to Carpenter's banter and romantic escapades. Occasionally corny but also playful, thoughtful and passionate, this first novel by Wouk in 10 years will charm fans with its companionable warmth and wry humor. Agent, Betty Sarah Wouk at BSW Literary Agency. (Apr. 14)

Reviewed on: 03/22/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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