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Cover image from goodreads.com

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.

(Story synopsis from goodreads.com)

Scandal in the Secret City by Diane Fanning was the February read for the Pi Beta Phi virtual book club. I found this story to be another fascinating, historical fiction, mystery to read this weekend. The story, while it did start off a little slow for me to give the readers background, did move quickly.

It was interesting to see Libby navigate the different roles that she found herself in as she struggled to fit in to different parts of the community. Libby wanted to be accepted as a scientist during a time when women were expected to get married and have children. Libby also found it difficult to fit in with the other women at Oak Ridge because of her position as a scientist. The one person who accepted Libby for the person she was, was her roommate Ruth.

Ruth, however, finds herself in a desperate situation and can only rely on Libby to get her the answers that she is searching for. Libby, being the loyal friend and curious scientist that she is, begins her own investigation to help Ruth get the answers that she needs. Libby’s search though becomes much more difficult as the local authorities and military try to prevent Libby from finding out the truth for “security reasons” and she must try to unravel the mystery in secret. Libby is able to find a group of scientists called the “walking molecules” who are willing to help her as long as their own lives are not put in danger.

I found Scandal in the Secret City to be a great, quick read. While travelling on Sunday, I found Fanning’s novel to be a great way to spend my time. Fanning also did a great job of drawing the reader into the mystery that Libby found herself in, and while I had an idea of “who done it,” I also found myself questioning if I was correct. This was a fun read and I recommend it to those who are looking for another great mystery.