A meticulously researched, expertly executed historical thriller…
Fraikor weaves historical detail, political intrigue, romance, mystery, and insidious sabotage into a gripping historical thriller that takes the reader into the 1940s top-secret world of the Manhattan project. Overcoming gender discrimination in the male world of engineering, Irene Matchuska, a young assistant professor at Columbia University, is assigned to work at a top-secret government project in the secret city of Los Alamos. The battle-scarred veteran, Navy Commander Carlos Sonora is also assigned to work on the secret project. Soon, the couple falls in love. But as they begin to make progress, their hazardous journey takes them into a perilous world populated by political conspiracy, dangerous enemy agents, and treacherous sabotage. After a slow opening, with the narrative heavy on technical jargon, this intense historical gains momentum. Fraikor’s excellent characters and tight plotting capture the complexity and intrigue of the nuclear project, the tenderness of romance, the difficulty of navigating in men’s world, and the courage that comes from integrity. Irene, with her intelligence, self-assurance, and determination emerges as a deeply fleshed-out character, as does the poised and endearing Commander Carlos. The large cast of varied secondary characters is equally convincing. But the best thing about the novel is the effortless way in which it incorporates Irene and Carl’s romance into the complex, technical theme centered around the Manhattan project. Appearances by many historical figures, including J. Robert “Oppie” Oppenheimer, Director, Site Y, General Leslie Richard Groves, Jr. Commander, Manhattan Engineering District, Eric and Eleanor Jette, Edward Teller, Emil Julius Klaus “Karl” Fuchs among others are merged with the pair’s poignant romance. Readers will devour the twists, intrigue, triumphs, and occasional failures of the endearing couple. With the Project Manhattan at heart, Fraikor tackles a full range of events, including “Rosie the Riveter” factory workers and Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASPs) replacing men in many areas, the bias and disdain that women faced in workplace. Fraikor’s engrossing tale successfully highlights the women’s struggles for equal work opportunity, self-determination, and a bias-free work environment With insight and sensitivity, Fraikor explores century-old social ethics and challenges that are relevant even in today’s advanced world. Grounded in a wealth of research into the history of multimillion dollar Jumbo, the novel is sure to please readers who enjoy vividly constructed and richly detailed historical recreations. This is a must-read for lovers of quality historical thrillers.
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Irene’s Secret Diary
Love, Romance, War and an Atom Bomb
By Fred Fraikor
Price $6.06 (USD) Kindle edition, $19.99 Paperback