What I’m reading

Whoo, boy, can Stuart Gibbs write.

I hadn’t read any of his books before–and he’s done a few–but this one catches you right away, as good fiction should, right from the prologue’s first page… nay, the first paragraph… nay, the first sentence:

“Albert Einstein was dying.”

Okay, I’m in.
I’m so in.

Taking me to the bedside of the most brilliant mind the world has ever seen in his last moments before death? What will happen? What will he do? What will he say?

What Einstein does, blitzed on morphine the young doctor has administered to ease his pain, is reveal, in German that the doctor doesn’t speak, where he’s hidden Pandora.

What’s Pandora? Evidently something important enough that Einstein’s decades-long friend from university, Ernst Klein–moments too late to talk to Einstein before he passes–starts throwing armloads of Einstein’s work into the roaring fireplace. Crazy? Sacrilege? Ah, but he’s doing so at Einstein’s own request, written in a letter to Klein a decade earlier about what to do upon his death.

Suddenly, armed men burst through the front door and stop Klein from destroying any more of Einstein’s work.

And that’s in barely ten pages, y’all.

Cut to modern times, where we meet CIA Agent Dante Garcia as he pitches his plan to Director Jamilla Carter of bringing in an off-the-charts brilliant twelve-year-old girl named Charlie Thorne to help the CIA find Pandora, as the agency has been unable to do in the seven decades since Einstein’s death. They had bugged Einstein’s home and heard what he told the doctor, but what Einstein said had only led to dead ends.

Carter is reluctant to bring in Charlie, who for years has displayed disdain for authority and recently pulled off a massive hack of a company, ruined its reputation, and stolen $40 million from it. But Carter needs to do something fast, because a terrorist cell known as the Furies has been looking for Pandora as well, and the CIA fears the Furies are getting close to finding it.

Einstein gave the world E=mc², the equation that he regretted led to the creation of nuclear weapons. Whatever Pandora is, he was reluctant to reveal it. But assuming it has even greater potential for power and destruction, the CIA has to find it before the Furies do.

Director Carter gives the go-ahead to bring Charlie Thorne to help on the case; the genius thief who isn’t old enough to drive, but who now has to save the world.

Did I mention I was in?