A Sigma Force Novel
June 26, 2012 / ISBN 978-0061784798
by Elise Cooper
Bloodline, the new novel by James Rollins explores the
science of genetics and immortality. In this thriller the reader
is left to question the balance between science and morality. The
book delves into the meaning of life and death using science, history,
religion, and technology.
The plot takes off right from the very beginning when Somali Pirates
hijack a yacht off the coast of the Horn of Africa. They kidnap
a pregnant American woman, who happens to be the President's daughter,
Commander Gary Pierce is put in charge of a mission to rescue her.
He enlists a retired military dog team as well as his fellow Sigma
Force teammates, who are an elite and covert arm of the Department
of Defense's DAPRA unit. They must deal with the devilish secret
Rollins noted, "The bad guys were named because GUILD is currently
used by intelligence agencies to describe shadowy terrorist organizations.
Also, "Man from Uncle" was an influence since I watched
a lot of these TV shows while growing up. I like to read and write
old school type thriller novels with shadowy organizations fighting
the good guys."
Beyond the adventure story is the backdrop of the genetics issue.
Amanda is kidnapped for her fetus, having undergone in-vitro fertilization
at a clinic in South Carolina. Rollins explores this issue using
a biotechnology and genetic engineering plot. He wanted to "point
out genetic manipulation, since we only understand 20% of the human
genetic code. With manipulation, strange unexpected things can happen.
This book is a warning on how far we want to reach into issues we
don't truly understand. There should be a common ground where fate,
evolution, and science meet."
The women characters play a major role in Bloodline. Rollins appears
to have accurately captured the role of the female in armed combat.
Unlike many other novels, the women in this plot fight and bleed
alongside their male counterparts. There is Captain Kathryn Bryant,
the second in command for SIGMA Force, Dr. Lisa Cummings, whose
expertise is in genetics, Seichan, a former GUILD assassin, who
now is part of SIGMA, and Petra the German nurse, who is influenced
by past Nazi atrocities.
These characters complement their male counterparts: Sigma Force
Director, Dr.Painter Crowe, Commander Gary Pierce, President James
Grant, and the evil OB-GYN, Dr. Edward Blake.
The former military dog team, Tucker and his Belgium Malinois,
Kane, are enlisted to join the rescue group. Once again the author
presents a very realistic picture involving the working and thinking
between a dog and its handler. He explained that about a year and
half ago, as part of a USO author tour of military bases in Iraq
and Kuwait, he saw these war dogs in action. He also came upon a
classmate of his from veterinary school who works with the veterinary
corps in Iraq. He gave a heads up when he stated that this team
would be spun off into its own series.
Anyone who has a dog will appreciate the quote in the book, "the
inexplicable bond between dog and handler, tying them together by
something deeper than just hand signals and spoken commands
both bound together by blood and trust." Rollins explained,
"Since I am a veterinarian I wanted to capture what it is really
like to be a dog. Not to make dogs a four legged human. To have
the reader placed in the 'paws' of Kane, to be in the hunt, the
battle, from a dog's point of view."
What is also very interesting is how he uses technology to enhance
the plot: a stealth submarine, how Kane was able to distinguish
a single drop of blood, a multitude of electronic viewing and listening
devices, as well as the inhumane electronic leash. He describes
this leash as a device placed in a human's ear that can explode
or inflict great pain if the person does not follow directions.
Rollins explained he took liberties with this piece of technology
but based it on bomb collars placed on hostages in Africa. There
they use the collars side by side with invisible fences, which were
invented to keep dogs in the backyard, for the purpose of keeping
hostages from escaping, without using much manpower.
Bloodline is a powerful and insightful novel. Rollins
has the reader ponder the innovative aspects of science and technology.
He does all this in an action-packed, fast-paced thriller the reader
will not want to put down.
Reviews of other titles in this series
of Bones #2
Judas Strain, #4
Last Oracle, #5
Doomsday Key, #6
Devil Colony , #7
Bloodline, #8 [review
of God #9
Sixth Extinction #10