The Stars Turned Inside Out

Atria Mar. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781668018545. $27.99. M
A physicist is found dead from radiation poisoning at high-tech, high-profile CERN, in a nuclear-accelerator tunnel that’s been closed down for maintenance. Seeking to avoid bad publicity on the eve of renewing funding from the many European entities that support the research center, CERN’s head calls in a friend, a private investigator who can dig around without creating a stir. But soon there’s another death, equally exotic: a scientist has drowned in the xenon tank of purified water used to hunt for evidence of dark matter. There’s evidence also of commercial espionage; data is leaking to China, which is starting its own similar program. Is someone at CERN trying to cover their tracks by killing off coworkers? Jacobs (The Last Equation of Isaac Severy) assembles all the ingredients for a distinctly different murder mystery, but it doesn’t quite gel. The talk about science is interesting, but the characters don’t come alive, there isn’t much ambience, and the plot moves ahead mechanically.
VERDICT Readers who like mixing science and detection may find this book appealing, but it’s a mixed bag.
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