The Loki Project

Written by Benjamin King
Review by John R. Vallely

The Atomic Bomb became possible as a war-winning weapon following the groundbreaking laboratory efforts of the largely forgotten German chemist Otto Hahn in 1938. Students of the World War II era and Nazi Germany find it puzzling that a technologically sophisticated and industrially proficient country like Germany in the mid-20th century would be unable to convert Hahn’s studies into a Nazi A-Bomb. Germany’s frustrations owed not a little to the cartoon-like inefficiency of the National Socialist state apparatus and the Nazi attitude towards the “Jewish science” of Physics. Benjamin King, an historian for the U.S. Army’s Transportation Center, a paratroop veteran of Vietnam, and a historical novelist of some experience, takes up this story in the first of a planned two-volume fictional account of this failed Nazi effort.

Dr. Maximilian Lamm is a Physics professor who joins the SS and is posted to the Racial Science Section at SS Headquarters in Berlin. He soon murders his oafish superior and begins plotting to expand his powers to include the atomic research. Lamm encounters three of the most fascinating personalities of the Third Reich hierarchy – the absolutely frightening Reinhard Heydrich, the relentlessly peculiar Heinrich Himmler, and the peasant-like schemer Martin Borrmann. Additional famous, and infamous, historical figures play critical roles at various times. The heart of the novel lies in Lamm’s slow and careful acquisition of influence while British agents and German resistance forces assemble to thwart his designs.

King presents the reader with a plot ideally positioned for drama and suspense but, curiously, spends far more time on bureaucratic details than on the possibilities inherent in the story and topic. A careful and thoughtful reader may still wonder why Lamm, a man disgusted by the Nazis and their brutality, would strive so hard to work within their ranks to fulfill their goals. A fine concept for a novel.