Nucleus by Rory Clements ** Blog tour

Thanks to Emily Burns of Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to be on the blog tour for Rory Clements' latest book, Nucleus. Second in the series, it is described by the publisher as, ' a supebly atmospheric, accomplished and original novel'. 

The eve of war: a secret so deadly, nothing and no one is safe.

June 1939. England is partying like there is no tomorrow, gas masks at the ready. In Cambridge the May Balls are played out with a frantic intensity - but the good times won't last... In Europe, the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, and in Germany the persecution of the Jews is now so widespread that desperate Jewish parents send their children to safety in Britain aboard the Kindertransport. Closer to home, the IRA's S-Plan bombing campaign has resulted in more than 100 terrorist outrages around England. 

But perhaps the most far-reaching event of all goes largely unreported: in Germany, Otto Hahn has produced the first man-made fission and an atomic device is now a very real possibility. The Nazis set up the Uranverein group of physicists: its task is to build a superbomb.  The German High Command is aware that British and US scientists are working on similar line. Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory is where the atom was split in 1932. Might the Cambridge men now win the race for a nuclear bomb? Hitler's generals need to be sure they know all the Cavendish's secrets. Only then will it be safe for Germany to wage war.

When one of the Cavendish's finest brains is murdered, Professor Tom Wilde is once more drawn into an intrigue from which there seems no escape. In a conspiracy that stretches from Cambridge to Berlin and from Washington DC to the west coast of Ireland, he faces deadly forces that threaten the fate of the world.

 My Thoughts

Books set in the 1930's are particular favourites of mine and there is no more fascinating period than the years just before the outbreak of the Second World War.  This is the second in the Tom Wilde series of books but can be read as a standalone. With spy intrigue, competing political ideology and even a touch of class warfare, it captures the melting pot that was society at that time. On the surface, Cambridge may appear serene and focused on learning but in actual fact, there are desperate dealings under the surface. The race for the atom bomb is all the more poignant for modern readers who know how it all turned out. 

    Tom Wilde is a well-drawn central character, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone. There are several red herrings laid in his path and I must admit that I found the story quite a complex one and certain characters kept me guessing. Cambridge in the late 1930's shone like a jewel in the story and a glance at Rory's website has some interesting information about the period. It really does feel like another world. You can feel the fear in the inhabitants of Berlin where everyone and everything seems to be the subject of surveillance. 

In short: well written, detailed and substantial, the suspense builds throughout.

About the Author 

RORY CLEMENTS won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2010 for his second novel, Revenger. He is the author of the John Shakespeare series of novels which are currently in development for TV by the team behind POLDARK and ENDEAVOUR. Since 2007, Rory has been writing full-time in a quiet corner of Norfolk, England, where he lives with his family. Find out more at

Thanks to Emily Burns of Bonnier Zaffre and Rory Clements for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.



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