Hot on the heels of The Devil Colony, the last Sigma thriller, comes Bloodline. So good was The Devil Colony and so desperate was I to discover what would happen next to Crowe, Gray, Monk and Seichan et al, I couldn’t wait for the UK August release of Bloodline and instead opted for the anxious wait by my letterbox for an American copy to arrive (the cover here is the UK edition). I don’t know how James Rollins does it – the Sigma thrillers may be a chain of novels but each is unique and completely different from what went before or what will happen next. With two exceptions: they are extremely well-written and are utterly unputdownable. If you want to spend two or three days with your nose glued to a book, robbing you of any care or thought for what may be going on beyond its cover, then may I suggest the Sigma series?
I haven’t read all of them, although I intend to, but that doesn’t matter too much. The novels follow events in the lives of the members of Sigma Force, a secret organisation in the White House comprising ex-military figures whose speciality is combating dangerous science. This can mean tackling conspiracies wrapped around mythological or archaeological mysteries or taking on the lethal contents of a test tube or nano-robot. Led by Painter Crowe, Sigma now has to deal with the knowledge that has increased throughout the novels that there is a force opposed to them, something called the Guild. As each books progresses, further clues come to light.
Although as I mentioned you don’t need to have read all of the Sigma novels (I think there have been eight) before appreciating any of them, I would suggest you read The Devil Colony before Bloodline. This will not only be a pleasure, it will also help to explain some of the actions and relations of Bloodline. Deep mysteries of the Guild are tackled in The Devil Colony and that web of intrigue is spun larger than ever in Bloodline.
In Bloodline, the threat to democracy and humanity is focused upon a baby, the unborn baby of Amanda, the daughter of the President of the United States, Gant. When Amanda is kidnapped by pirates from a yacht off the coast of Somalia, Gant calls upon Sigma Force to save her life and that of his grandchild. It’s not long before it becomes clear that Amanda’s disappearance is part of a much wider scheme that involves fertility clinics across America and beyond. Crowe puts Grey and Saichan into the field to follow the trail. They could never have guessed how far it could take them.
With a story involving micro- and macro-robots, macabre genetic engineering, elaborate Dubai islands, medieval knights and the devious schemes that can be achieved only by the most rich and powerful, there is so much going on. Trails divide and divide again. The extent of the threat becomes more known and increasingly elaborate. As teams split up, we follow them across the globe and as we pass from one to the other, the pace never gives. We constantly want to know what will happen next and as we move continually between the different threads of the web it’s impossible not to be impressed and awed by James Rollins’ sheer ability to hold it all together so tightly while keeping you awake for much of the night, enthralled.
Some characters are familiar but there are others who are less well-known but given the chance to take centre stage. There are also new individuals and chief among these are Tucker and Kane. Kane is a Major, a high-ranking ex-military dog (a Belgian Shepherd) and Tucker is his lesser-ranking handler. They form the perfect partnership, adept at communication and acutely sensitive to each other and to others, including vulnerable people. At times Kane bravely leads us into the unknown and then James Rollins gives us Kane’s senses. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that we see much, much more of Tucker and Kane in future novels, Sigma or otherwise.
There are twists galore in Bloodline. There are revelations to make your jaw drop. From the first page I knew I would be hooked and I kept on reading with barely a break. It is quite astonishing how James Rollins continues to excel even himself.
My review of The Devil Colony.