Cover image for Scandal in the secret city : a Libby Clark mystery
Scandal in the secret city : a Libby Clark mystery
Fanning, Diane, author.
Personal Author:
First world edition.
Publication Information:
Sutton, England : Severn House, 2014.

Physical Description:
252 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



From the author of the Lucinda Pierce series, comes a thrilling new mystery, set during the Second World War . . .

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, otherwise known as the Secret City, rose seemingly overnight in 1942, built by the US Government. No one was quite sure what its purpose was or where it came from, but there was certainly something going on . . .

Libby Clark, a gutsy Bryn Mawr graduate, is determined to find her place as a scientist in a world where women are thought better suited to housework and marriage. As the only female scientist in the top secret facility, Libby is excited to begin what she believes is important government research.

She soon begins to suspect, however, that not all is as it seems. And to make matters worse, one frosty night she discovers the dead body of her roommate's sister sprawled behind the bleachers. No one else seems to think finding the killer is important and it's up to Libby to make sense of the situation. Aided by a band of like-minded scientists, Libby follows every possible lead until she comes to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Fanning, author of the Lucinda Pierce series, introduces a new female sleuth. In 1943, Elizabeth Libby Clark, a young physicist, wants more than marriage and children and feels fortunate to land a job at the Secret City (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) doing research to further America's war efforts. As the only female scientist on the project, she must deal with the sexism of her male coworkers and the security obsession of the military and government officials in charge of the facility. When a young woman employed at the guest house turns up dead under the bleachers at the high school, Libby can't understand why no one seems to care who killed her. The victim is her roommate's sister, so she feels obligated to investigate on her own, ruffling many bureaucratic feathers in the process. Numerous thrillers have been set in Los Alamos, but this is one of the few to use Oak Ridge, where uranium was separated for preparation of the first atomic bomb. Fanning re-creates the atmosphere at Oak Ridge effectively, and her exploration of the ethical issues surrounding security are timely today. A promising new series.--Bibel, Barbara Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This awkward first in a new WWII-era series from Fanning (Chain Reaction) introduces Elizabeth "Libby" Clark, a chemist at the secret atomic bomb development facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., who encounters sexism, suspicion, and jealousy from male colleagues as well as from women employed in secretarial and other clerical positions. Only the friendship of her roommate, Ruth Nance, and the approval of Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, provide solace. After Ruth and Libby stumble across the body of Ruth's sister, Irene, who also worked at Oak Ridge, their pursuit of the case results in Ruth losing her job and Libby facing official stonewalling and pressure to forget what she has seen in the name of the national interest. Libby subsequently turns to an eccentric coterie of scientists for help in tracking down the killer in a story guilty of gaps in logic and an obvious perpetrator. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Elizabeth Clark, better known as Libby, wants to be a scientist; she majored in chemistry and physics at Bryn Mawr College and earned a master's degree in analytical chemistry. It's April 1943, but even women with advanced degrees still have trouble finding work. Libby is finally hired by Eastman Kodak and travels to Oak Ridge, TN, where hundreds of other young women have been employed to run the Calutron, a huge machine used to separate the various components of "Tube Alloy," the code name for uranium. Libby suspects they might be building an atomic bomb. When her analysis gets her noticed by Gen. Leslie Groves, she moves out of the dorm and into a tiny house. But Libby misses her old dorm mate, Ruthie Nance, a Calutron Girl who occasionally comes for sleepovers. One cold winter morning, the two find the corpse of Ruthie's sister, Irene, with a scarf wrapped tightly around her neck. But when they report the crime, the body mysteriously disappears and the military police act as though nothing really happened. VERDICT True crime and mystery writer Fanning ("Lucinda Pierce" series) launches a fascinating new historical series that also offers an almost sociological study of women's issues during World War II. Her refreshingly original amateur sleuth is smart, strong-willed, and independent in an era when marriage was usually the only career option for women. Libby is bound by her word to help uncover the truth, even when it puts her in danger. Readers will be engrossed by a gripping puzzler of a mystery and authentic details regarding America's "Secret City" and its role in the development of the atomic bomb. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.