Morgan’s (No End in Sight, 2012, etc.) sinuous thriller features evildoers bent on nuclear mayhem and mind control.
In Morgan’s story, a Nazi scientist succeeded in replicating his genius in the mind of another man, moving toward the creation of the perfect superman. Though the eventual product of this experiment, Siegfried Bachmeier, uses his brilliance in 1993 to discover subatomic particles and fashion an explosive device of cataclysmic strength, he gets sidetracked by the mind-altering experiments from 50 years ago. He tries to understand and recreate their workings, but the process gives his subjects (including himself) devilish headaches, though the original goal of mass hypnosis dances only a fingertip away. Meanwhile, Bachmeier’s comrades in Argentina—questing after the next thousand-year Reich but willing to settle for the presidency of Argentina—have to thwart the steady encroachment on their project by a team of ex–Navy SEALs. The bad guys have already detonated a bomb that killed more than 300,000 New Yorkers and scared the state of Israel enough for it to launch three thermonuclear strikes on Iran, whom they erroneously thought did the dirty work. Morgan has a grand time weaving complications into this tale—plots and counterplots, dashes to the edge and then retreats—as well as bringing his engineering background into the mix: micro piezoelectric crystals, “tables of blast over-pressures versus distance,” particle-beam weaponry and electroencephalography (a measurement of electric activity in the brain). While Morgan ably captures characters on the page, sometimes the sheer number of them can be overwhelming—Brandt and Bachmeier, Baumgartner and Bihari, Basima and Biggs, etc.—and the writing has its wooden moments: “ ‘Prof, I want to talk to you about me and Karl. Could we go into your office?’ They do just that and Baumgartner shuts the door,” or “Perhaps there is something in his notes. She decides to look more carefully.” But Morgan’s clear joy in steering the story around its many curves and toward its merry ending keeps the thriller fresh and dastardly, even if readers might find it difficult to keep track of it all.
Nazis once again make for creepy villains in Morgan’s ecstatic thriller.