The novel JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY by Dr. John D. King is based upon a fascinating foundation. In his doctoral dissertation, anti-nuke sympathizing graduate student Bob Novaro outlines how to separate metal isotopes. This causes his faculty advisor, Dr. Stroder, to apply that same methodology to uranium, which has military applications, since a neutron striking the nucleus of an atom of the isotope Metallic Uranium -235 is instrumental in the concoction of an atom bomb. Thus begins an adventure in which no graduate student should find himself.
But Novaro is not entirely innocent regarding the mayhem that ensues. Stealing his mentor’s notebook, the FBI soon becomes involved and Novaro is prosecuted, until a cleverly nefarious lawyer gets him off and then promptly arranges Novaro’s kidnapping. He is taken to Angustia, a small South American country that has a reigning dictator with big plans for upgrading its world standing by distilling uranium ore into persuasive atomic weaponry, with potentially devastating consequences. The science in King’s JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY sounds plausible, as does an array of underhanded political maneuvers.
The pace of the story zooms from one conundrum to the next, rarely pausing for breath, which is good in every way except for character development. Bringing a cast of characters fully to life on the page is where the book falters. Dictator Victor Martillo and his entourage of baddies seem too conventionally one-dimensional, as do the main character and his new main squeeze, Rita Molinara. The tale is at its strongest when deconstructing what motivates events behind-the-scenes in national affairs, but weakest when endeavoring to depict emotions such as love, or even the human desire for self-preservation. There are also far too many peripheral characters — Eduardo Prisa, Major Jarocho, Fidel Desino, Dr. Pastrana, Colonel Gonzalez, Dr. Camacho, etc. — who never come to life as well. Not providing readers with at least some fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters they can truly come to know, care about, and root for (or against) is the main drawback to an otherwise fine, suspenseful book.
JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY by Dr. John D. King is concise, action-packed, scientific political fiction that moves forward at lightning speed and reads as if it could easily be fact.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader