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Retro Reading: The Benedict Arnold Connection by Joseph DiMona

Paperback cover

Paperback cover

In the real world, my former best friend and I were going to see Rollercoaster on July 1, 1977.

In the fictional world, three stripped nuclear MIRV's from missles were stolen from Minot, North Dakota, but a portion of a letter was found outside the fence. Soon, the entire East Coast would be threatened with nuclear destruction.

So begins the second installment in the George Williams novels.

Williams, a Justice Department agent, has been given orders directly by the president to find who is behind the theft and to find the bombs before the deadline of July 2 at 6:00 p.m.

The first part of this mystery is the torn piece of letter, which reads, "For revenge of Nancy, beloved Benedict Arnold" and his insiders are able to decipher a code from the bomber.

While Williams is trying to figure everything out, his former girlfriend, socialite Peggy DuPont, arrives in Lake Champlain, New York, where the descendants of Benedict Arnold are going to recreate history (the real version). Williams enlists her help as she thinks back to meeting a Canadian acrobatic, Malcolm Bennett (who's a descendant of "Nancy").

As time ticks away, Malcolm flees a tryst and returns back to his motel, gathers his belongings and races back to the Canadian border.

Peggy manages to track him down and after talking with him, convinces him to talk to Williams. Reluctantly he agrees and tells him what he knows before he's murdered in front of Peggy.

Bennet's sister Sarah is later interviewed and she reveals more information regarding the Benedict Arnold connection, along with original items from him.

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Under this unusual reunion, Peggy's feelings for Williams begins to ignite again (as does Williams') and she starts to help with trying to find the intended bomber. Her part of the investigation is to casually talk with people, while reading between the lines.

With moments to go, the bomb is found and does indeed go off, causing mass destruction with a massive radioactive tidal wave.

But there's another bomb set to detonate on the Fourth of July at 8:00 a.m. and now with the identity of the organization behind them, Williams sets out to confront the bomber.

This book really didn't sit well with me, since it's all about double identities, espionage, treason and a bunch of other things, and I didn't know that there this was a part of a series. The cover just shows people running from a tidal wave and it peaked my interest.

While the government part really isn't my cup of tea, the disaster portion was and DiMona does create a lot of tension following the wave. He also brings tension regarding the upcoming devastation of New York. The disaster portion is definitely the meat of the story.

Even though this is a part of a series (which I just learned of) it does good as a standalone, so I don't think you need to be concerned with the first or last installment. I'm not that worried about something that may or may not have a connection, so I know that I won't be losing any sleep.

What does, however, slow the book is when it focuses on the government part of the book. It just really drags down the action.

Another thing that I didn't like was there are too many "extras" in the story who are given a name, situation and then they're either killed or you never hear from them again. Many don't have a reason as to why their mentioned and this also slows down the action.

When it does focus on the bomber and the story behind it, it really propels the action and I found that part of the story to be more interesting. I really felt as though I were a part of the story.

Overall, if you do like disaster books, chances are you'll probably be slightly disappointed, but it does provide a page turning read.

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