Winston Sage, MD, an epidemiologist, and his wife Julia move to New Mexico for a peaceful retirement in picturesque, artsy Santa Fe. At a welcoming party, as a way of introducing himself to the new community, Sage boasts of his experience in tracing people. A neighbor hears about this and asks Sage for help in finding his wife who has recently disappeared. Sage, a medical detective who always wanted to play a real detective, gets involved, thereby opening a Pandora’s box of life-changing escapades.
Sage becomes obsessed with trying to find the missing wife. He learns that she is an owner of a successful gallery on Canyon Road, specializing in ancient Asian art. He also learns that she recently acquired expertise in Chinese ceramics of the Warring States Era(435-221 BCE) under the mentorship of a high-ranking Chinese-American nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratories. As Sage persists in nagging everyone with questions, the FBI warns him to stay away from the nuclear scientist, a top security figure. At this point, an unexpected attempt is made on Sage’s life and he is then taken into protective custody. In a surprise ending, the long sought-after Los Alamos mole is uncovered.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The Warring States Conundrum is my first novel. I had just moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and decided to become an author. It was around the time of the false accusation of a Taiwanese-American nuclear physicist of spying for the Chinese at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (near Santa Fe). Around this same time, I became interested in ceramics of the Chinese Warring States Era (the bowl on the cover is a Warring States Era piece in my collection). So I combined the two themes. As an epidemiologist, I have a long-standing interest in tracing people. So the plot simply flowed from these.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
In this novel, the protagonist is patterned after myself–a retired epidemiologist. The protagonist, Winston Sage MD, is named after two fly rod manufacturers, Winston and Sage. I quickly discovered that Santa Fe was replete with oddball characters, frequently seniors, so I developed a group of nutty friends of Sage. These characters are all seniors who are trying to cope with their aging in different ways.Many of the characters are named after fishing equipment makers or have Ethiopian names. For example the FBI big-shot named Tilikso, is based on Amharic slang for a big-shot. "Tilik" means "big" and "saw' (pronounced "so") means "man" and Tilikso is portrayed as a very corpulent man. Tags for this book could be: thriller, espionage, boomer lit, mystery, nuclear scientist, epidemiology, Santa Fe setting, cozy mystery that morphs into a thriller.
It was 8:20 P.M. and coal dark outside when Winston Sage got the phone call that would change his life. He was at his desk and had just poured himself a glass of the special 25-year-old calvados he’d been saving to celebrate his retirement when the damn phone rang.
He took a slow sip of his drink before picking up.
A man’s voice asked, “Is this Dr. Sage?”
“My name’s Bill Harvey. I’m a neighbor. I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Sage eyed the snifter of amber calvados in his hand. “No. Not really.”
“I have a problem I was hoping you could help me with. I got your number from Sandy Greene.”
Sage, an epidemiologist, and his wife Julia, had been in their new house barely two weeks. They had moved to Santa Fe without knowing a soul there, so it was nice when another neighbor, Sandy Greene, had a welcoming party for them. He couldn’t remember having met Bill Harvey there, and he was surprised by what this stranger revealed next.
“You see, my wife’s disappeared,” the man went on. “About two weeks ago she just vanished. I’ve been to the police and gotten Seymour Grufferman nowhere and I’m at the end of my rope. I wonder if I could talk to you about it.”
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