Dorothy Van Soest
Apprentice House Press (2020)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (05/2020)
“Nuclear Option” by Dorothy Van Soest is an exciting suspense thriller wrapped around historical events surrounding early testing of nuclear bombs, the nuclear disarmament movement of the 1980s and the ongoing issues surrounding nuclear technology in today’s volatile atmosphere.
Sylvia Jensen, a longtime activist in the nuclear disarmament movement, considers herself, at age seventy-seven, to be finished with that world and lifestyle. But she is unwittingly pulled back into the throes of the action when she meets Corey, the son of her former lover-and-fellow-activist, Norton Cramer. Corey is angry with the world and ready to avenge his father’s death at any cost. Sylvia and her friend, investigative reporter J.B. Harrel are caught in a race against time as they work to bring a dark, deep buried secret to light before it claims even more lives.
Wow. When I finished reading “Nuclear Option,” I literally sat motionless, stunned by what I had just consumed, thinking how is this the first novel I’ve read by Dorothy Van Soest? This is a novel of excellence, written by an author gifted with extraordinary talent. The story moves seamlessly back and forth in time, Van Soest anchoring the reader through razor sharp imagery of the characters, the social and political atmosphere, and the pressures of each era. The contrast of accepted norms between the generations is staggering – the similarities even more frightening.
The plot is rich with drama and excitement, as entertaining as it is terrifying, proving once again, the truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Van Soest sheds light on an unconscionable secret atomic veterans were forced to keep, the outcome of this catastrophic time still bleeding into society today. I guarantee you will want to learn more about nuclear technology after reading this story.
Van Soest also draws the reader in with her characters and you can’t help but invest in them, cry with them, feel their angst, and grow with them. Moving through the story with Corey as he develops brings out the nurturing parent in readers (well, this reader anyway). My “mama-bear” instincts out in full force, my heart leaping and breaking often within moments of each other as Corey faces his demons and moves through them in order to get to the other side. So many great characters endear the reader as you bear witness to all sides of their individual stories.
Conspiracy, cover-up, addiction, betrayal, loss, and revenge, “Nuclear Option” by Dorothy Van Soest is the perfect blend of character-driven and plot-driven motivation, in a story conceived from the annals of one of darkest periods in American history kept secret for decades.