A historian documents his strange days hiding out in a Swiss hotel in the aftermath of nuclear war.
American historian Jon Keller is at a conference at L’Hotel Sixième outside of Zurich when a nuclear weapon destroys Washington, and more major cities aren’t far behind. The president is dead, and millions of others are, too. The horror is almost too much to contemplate. Many people in the hotel flee, but Jon stays and begins to chronicle his days with the small remaining group of guests and staff. He worries about his wife and two daughters back in San Francisco and laments that he didn't leave on the best of terms with his wife. He befriends a few of the guests, most notably the outspoken Tomi, who is the only other American; they have a doctor and plenty of food stores for the time being. Jon makes a record of his experiences in the hotel and collects the stories of his fellow survivors, hoping he can preserve something of what they were before the world went sideways. When Jon and a few others find the body of a little girl in a rooftop water tank, Jon resolves to find her killer. Trusted with a set of master keys, Jon sets about snooping around the enormous hotel. He often feels as if he’s being watched, adding a distinct element of creeping dread reminiscent of The Shining. Jameson delivers an eerie and unsettling tale, made even more so by its frequent mundanity. Even with a world in chaos, people still do what they do—form alliances, keep secrets, make love. They also go to lengths they never imagined they would. Jameson’s premise certainly resonates in our current political climate, and blame for the situation is leveled directly at Tomi because of whom she voted for in the last presidential election even as Jon ruminates that those who voted otherwise (like him) didn’t do enough to stop what happened. It makes for propulsive reading, but readers invested in what happened to the little girl in the water tank will find themselves scratching their heads when all is finally revealed in a rather rushed finale.
A thoughtful, page turning post-apocalyptic tale marred by a disjointed conclusion.