A book by Hunter S. Thompson.
Dental Surgeon Charles Hatton Adams, M.D., D.D.S., is better known as "Doc" Adams. He is the hero of nine DOC ADAMS mysteries published between 1982 and 1998 by Edgar Allen Poe Award winner Rick Boyer. Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of SHERLOCK HOLMES, Doc Adams is a medical doctor. Doyle had studied medicine in Edinburgh, his birthplace, under renowned Doctor Joseph Bell. Sherlock Holmes is modeled on Dr Bell. Recalling his old teacher Doyle wrote:
"All careful teachers have first to show the student how to recognize accurately the case. The recognition depends in great measure on the accurate and rapid appreciation of small points in which the diseased differs from the healthy state."
Doc Adams, too, is a trained observer of facts and great at singling out discrepancies. This is the main reason law enforcement so often call on him as an ally.
Thus: in MOSCOW METAL, FBI Agent Chet Harwood asks Doc Adams's cooperation observing:
"I've seen already that you have very good powers of observation, Doctor." Doc's reply: "It's my profession. Physicians are trained above all else to observe. To look for what's wrong ... out of place" (Ch. 5)
Thus Doc notices some crows strangely and for no obvious reason hovering over a work tent perched on a telephone pole near the house of an absent friend, Hungarian research scientist Emil Haszmanay. Something is out of place. So he takes a ladder, climbs up and discovers a corpse that the crows have been pecking away at for quite a while.
The corpse belonged to a sniper who had been using an air rifle. Aiming at Haszmanay, the shooter had instead hit Doc's cat, then being petted by the Hungarian. The pellet, we learn later, was made of specially radioactivized thallium. Such a pellet was a signature Soviet KGB way to kill traitors -- known in the trade as "Moscow Metal." After local Concord and Massachusetts State police, along with the FBI and CIA, are called in, it becomes clear that both the USSR and the USA suspect Emil Haszmanay of being a double agent -- which he is. Doc Adams fears that both sides wish his likeable neighbor dead.
When a frightened Haszmanay turns up at night half frozen after sliding down the coal chute into the Adamses' basement, Doc not only grants illegal asylum but sets to work to help his neighbor clear his name. The Hungarian is convinced that a traitor is sharing top-secret Star Wars inventions at nearby Lincoln Laboratory with the Soviets who are desperate to get their hands on an almost human computer named ARGUS (for Odysseus's faithful old hound) about to be shipped west by train. He also believes that there is a mole among his CIA handlers who are afraid he will blow the whistle on him. Doc is convinced.
In a final showdown, Doc Adams hides himself on the freight train heading west with the ARGUS computer and confronts a killer. Read the book to find out if that killer is American or Russian. It is Doc Adams' ability to notice small, out of place differences and to smell a rat that lets him identify the killer. He also sets a trap using only loyal local police forces, fearing to involve either the CIA or FBI. The trap barely works, but only after a second round is fired of Moscow Metal.
The landscape in and around Concord and Boston, Massachusetts, comes alive under the pen of Rick Boyer. Both Doc and Emil, the Lincoln Laboratory and U.S. intelligence agencies proactively use that landscape and its abandoned roads and mills to advance the mystery.
A good, intelligent book for a couple of hours easy reading.
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