In January, 1958, America's best hope to catch up with the Russians in the space race sits on a pad at Cape Canaveral. But the launch of the "Explorer I" satellite is delayed due to the weather, even though it is a sunny day. The real reason rests deep in the mind of a NASA scientist who wakes that morning with his memory completely erased--he knows a dark secret someone wants him to forget.
When Luke wakes up in a Washington D.C. train station dressed like a bum and with a case of amnesia, he finds himself having to rely on little clues to help piece is life together. Throughout the story, pieces of his memory come back to him through flashbacks. He learns that he is married to his college sweetheart, Elspeth, but just cannot understand how they became married. He had a later memory that put him in a very heated and romantic relationship with Billie, also a college friend, but just doesn't understand how that relationship dissolved.
As the book progressses Luke learns that he is actually a rocket scientist and the launch of Explorer I may be in jeopardy. I think that everyone is aware of the animosity that developed from space programs between the Russians and Americans and this book really highlighted the intensity of that period of time very well.
Between the CIA, the KGB, and the double agents Luke really wasn't sure who to trust towards the end of this novel. He had to rely on his instincts and make quick decisions that would affect his future and American history.
I don't want to go into too much detail as this book is categorized as a suspense/thriller, but I really did enjoy it, especially as an audiobook, and will more than likely read more of Follett's work in the future.
The premise of the story's not bad. It mostly takes place in early 1958 when the US is trying to answer the USSR's successful launch of Sputnik. Luke Lucas wakes up in a Union Station men's room with no idea who he is or how he got there. The first part of the book is him trying to figure all that out. Meanwhile, we see an old friend of his, who works in the CIA, clearly trying to keep Luke from discovering what's going on.
Part of the problem is that an author's note at the beginning of the book goes ahead and tells us the CIA worked to find ways of erasing people's memories. So we go into the story strongly assuming that's what happened to Luke. It would have been nice to discover that along with him.
Basically Luke is a rocket scientist who discovers information that he needs to get to Pentagon brass. But someone is doing their best to keep that from happening. There's a few OK twists here and there, but there was a little too much relationship melodrama along the way for me to truly enjoy what is supposed to be a spy thriller.
I do have to mention a HUGE error in the book, which happens to come at the very end. Each chapter begins with either a time or a date. In the epilogue, the date given is 1968. The content of said epilogue? The US landing on the moon. I mean, really?