The Atlantis Gene | A.G. Riddle | 2015 (orig. 2013) | Head of Zeus | 516p | Review copy | Buy the book
Clocktower is a secret global agency, dedicated to combat international crime, but its headquarters across the world are compromised, many of its agents assassinated. David Vale, based in Jakarta, is one of the few chiefs to survive. On the run for his life, he is in possession of coded clues which hint at the involvement of a ruthless organisation, Immari. Immari have their fingers in many pies, funding a host of scientists and businesses for reasons best known to themselves. Among them is geneticist Kate Warner’s research into Jakarta’s autistic children. When they kidnap two of the children, Kate has no choice but to go after them. It’s not long before Kate and David join what limited resources they have, following the clues that soon become a trail of dead bodies. Meanwhile, scientists in the Antarctica discover a mysterious vessel buried into the ground surface, hundreds of feet below the ice. Attached to it is a submarine that hints at another dark hunt, one that took place decades ago, funded by the Reich.
What follows is a pageturner of the most frenetic and exhilarating kind as Kate and David become both hunters and prey. We quickly follow them across continents, their chase picking up clues from past and present, including archaeological remains, an old diary, chambers within the deepest mines. Everything suggests that Immari is about to set in motion a near extinction event. Mankind is about to be all but destroyed and the countdown is on and it can be measured in just a few days. Throughout, help and danger meet and confront Kate and David from the least expected sources, supporting their growing fear and belief that they have uncovered a global conspiracy that may be as old as humanity itself.
When I picked up The Atlantis Gene I had no idea that it would consume my waking hours for the next two days. I love thrillers but the best ones, the ones that I can completely lose myself in no matter how outlandish their premise or how fantastic their plot, are few and far between. I soon discovered that this book belonged in that fabulous category. I was hooked from the opening chapter.
To get to the bare bones, this is a genetic mystery that is hurtling towards a potential extinction level event. It has more than enough science in it to satisfy me, along with archaeological evidence and anthropological theory. It also moves around in an exciting way – shifting between countries and continents as well as moving through time. It is packed to the rooftops with action, bloody murder, conspiracies, wonders and baddies. The second half of the novel in particular is a fascinating mix of historical mystery and present-day techno thriller, all involving some very likeable and rounded figures, as well as others who are pleasingly despicable and yet, at least some of the time, motivated by reasons that are understandable.
The Atlantis Gene is a substantial novel, at over 500 pages, but I’d have happily read double the number of pages. Fortunately, it is the first of a trilogy. This is just as well because there is so much more to discover, so many secrets, so many lies… Intriguingly, I’m told that the follow up novels (The Atlantis Plague and The Atlantis World) include an increasing amount of science fiction, adding another edge to this thoroughly entertaining and thrillfest of a trilogy. The scope of The Atlantis Gene is both enormous and ambitious. It is also confident and assured. As with all such thrillers, it does rely on the reader reigning in their sense of disbelief but I had no trouble at all with that. Luckily, I have the other two books in the trilogy to read and the test for me will be to see how long I can resist them while I catch up on my other review books – I give it a week.
The Atlantis Gene was first published in 2013. The whole trilogy has now been picked up by Head of Zeus and is being reissued in print and ebook format. Good!