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by Herman Wouk
Little Brown, April 2004
288 pages
ISBN: 0316525901

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

At 60 physicist Guy Carpenter is happily married and is the father of a new baby. Ten years ago Guy worked on the Superconducting Super Collider, a federal-funded project in Texas aimed at finding the Higgs Bosun subatomic particle. Congress pulled the plug on the funding of the project which left Carpenter abandoned and the bosun undiscovered.

Now ten years later a group of Chinese scientists publish a paper claiming to have discovered the Higgs Bosun. This throws the US Congress into a state of panic. The lawmakers wonder whether they had been too hasty to pull the plug on the project. To assess whether to reinstate the project, they summon Carpenter to Washington as he was a key staff member of the project.

There he is met by Congresswoman Myra Kadane who wishes to be enlightened on the Chinese situation. Myra was in the movies before she met Walter Kadane, a heavyweight Democrat in Congress. When he died suddenly, Myra took his seat in Congress and proved to be a smart woman not the dumb bunny people expected. Guy explains the Bosun situation to her, becoming very impressed with her and her understanding.

Guy's wife Penny is very jealous of his involvement with Myra and the potential involvement with his college love, Dr Wen Meili, who is now the chief scientist on the Chinese team. Guy is put on the spot with his wife, Penny, the media, Congress, the CIA, and the lovely Congresswoman. He must prove the viability of the project and extricate himself from his entanglements and temptations.

At 89 Wouk has not lost his touch. He has written an entertaining, enjoyable and easy to read story. He uses a mixture of historical and contemporary characters to augment his plot. The fictional characters are realistic with their very human flaws. The plot is thoughtful with insights into the workings of the governmental shenanigans. There are amusing episodes involving Guy's wife and their pet cat. The dialogue is clever and smart. The scientific data is fully explained not only by Guy but also by eminent scientists.

This is a welcome addition to Wouk's outstanding list of contributions to our enjoyment.

Reviewed by Barbara Buhrer, July 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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