Review: Nucleus by Rory Clements

Nucleus by Rory Clements (UK edition)

Title: Nucleus (Tom Wilde, 2)
Author: Rory Clements
Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre (25th January 2018)
Blurb:

June 1939. England is partying like there is no tomorrow, gas masks at the ready . . . but the good times won’t last. In Europe, the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, and in Germany Jewish persecution is rife. Closer to home, the IRA has embarked in a bombing campaign throughout Britain.

But the most far-reaching event of all goes largely unreported: in Germany, Otto Hahn has made the atomic bomb possible. German High Command fears that Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory could be close behind; they must discover its secrets before it is safe to wage war.

When one of the Cavendish’s finest brains is murdered, Professor Tom Wilde is drawn into the investigation. He unveils a conspiracy in which the fate of the world rests on the discovery of a kidnapped child. Can Tom Wilde discover the truth before it is too late?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

NUCLEUS by Rory Clements is the second book in his wonderful Tom Wilde series. The story is set in Cambridge during the summer of 1939 and tensions are running high. War has not yet been declared, but the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, in Germany Jewish persecution is rife, and the IRA are active in Britain. Within this in Germany Otto Hahn has made the atomic bomb something possible, no longer relegated to the world of fiction. The German High Command fear that Britain might not be far behind and wants to know exactly what is going on in Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory; a world that Professor Tom Wilde finds himself drawn into.

I have been really looking forward to seeing what Clements was going to do with the second book in his Tom Wilde series. I really enjoyed the first book, CORPUS, and my Q&A with him at the time of NUCLEUS’s release had built my excitement. NUCLEUS is everything I hoped for with its murder, intrigue and romance. I enjoyed re-uniting with Tom and Lydia. The world is a complicated mix of carefree and tense, with World War II looming in the background – the coming war is somehow both a looming presence in the text, and at the same time something that’s relegated to the background. If you’ve read and enjoyed the first book then it is definitely worth continuing the series.

NUCLEUS is set over two years after the end of CORPUS, with the threat of World War II looming large in the background. It was interesting to see how much had changed during the gap, and how much was the same. Although NUCLEUS is, obviously, a work of fiction it was interesting to discover what England was like during this period. It was a much laxer time than today, at least for the rich. I enjoyed being reunited with Tom and Lydia and their friends. The new characters introduced in this book were interesting, perhaps a little flat. I’m hoping we’ll see more of one of them in future, as I’d like to know what happens to them.

Plot wise NUCLEUS follows in the footsteps of CORPUS. The narrative focuses mainly on Tom and (to a lesser extent) Lydia, but Clements also gives glimpses into a couple of other character’s point of view. This style worked really well for me as it helped to create the sense of how large the scope of the plot is. I think if the narrative had focused solely on Professor Wilde the story would have lost something. Clements kept me guessing about what was going on through the whole book; admittedly, I’m not very good at guessing what’s going to happen. The ending has left me intrigued about the third book and what it might bring.

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