A dead geneticist at Princeton, a dead Vatican archaeologist in St. Peter’s Basilica, and a dead aid worker in Ghana who happens to be the son of a US Senator. In every case, a Druidic cross is burned into the flesh of the victim. Gray Pierce and Sigma Force are called into the investigation from two different angles, and end up in deep.
This is the fifth book in James Rollins’ Sigma Force series. I haven’t read the other books, so I wasn’t sure how I would like this one; five books in isn’t the best place to start a new series, after all. But The Doomsday Key is an outstanding thriller that I would recommend to anyone.
There are hints in the book of past plot-lines, and surely there are some spoilers mixed in, so if you really want to read the other books in the series, I’d recommend you read them first. But there’s really nothing in this book that would prohibit a newcomer from picking it up and enjoying it. That’s not something you can say about most thriller series books.
Rollins’ writing is strong; the plot is tight, even when there are two or three different plot-lines going on at the same time, you aren’t really distracted, and you don’t have trouble keeping track of who is where and what’s going on in each. It helps that each plot-line is very closely related to the others, even though it’s not obvious to the characters at the beginning of the book. This is an outstanding beach book — in fact, the cover of my ARC is a little weathered because it got a bit damp while I was on the beach.
One of the things you don’t always get in a thriller is good characterization. Rollins’ characters in The Doomsday Key aren’t as deep as characters in fine literature, but they are far more developed than in most thrillers you’ll read. That’s the advantage of a series.
Rollins doesn’t assume that readers have read all the other Sigma Force books, which I appreciated. Of course, he’s also banking on them wanting to read the other Sigma Force books once they’re done with this one. And in that respect he is correct; I will at the very least paying a visit to my local library in the very near future to catch up on the past exploits of Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force.