Kill Switch, written by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood,
can be considered part science fiction, part historical novel,
and part military thriller. Intertwined within all Rollins
books is a combination of these genres. This book is the first
in a series about a military dog, Kane, and his handler, Tucker
Wayne, although this former military team was first introduced
in the Sigma series book, Bloodline.
It is interesting how the two authors used their strengths
to write this storyline. Grant brings to the table his military
mindset, which was needed since Tucker is a former Army Ranger.
Since Grant is a former Navy veteran he knows how a service
person would handle a threat differently from a civilian.
On the other hand Rollins is able to write about the historical
and scientific elements as well as the behavior of Kane.
The plot has Tucker and Kane assigned by the Sigma Team to
extract from Russian soil a pharmaceutical scientist. He is
a volatile man who holds the secret to a deadly bioweapon.
This scientist, Abram Bukatov, is close to finding a “kill
switch” for LUCA, a plant organism that spreads like
wildfire and, if turned into a weapon, will disrupt or destroy
the food supply. Throughout the book is a cat and mouse chase
between the Tucker team and a rogue Russian General’s
team that includes the Swedish sniper, Felice Nilsson. Written
in a very intense and suspenseful manner, the story delves
into how Tucker and Kane must overcome betrayal, being hunted,
and a terrorist attack that could be catastrophic to the world’s
The scenes with Tucker and Kane are the most interesting parts
of the book. Rollins, a practicing veterinarian, skillfully
writes Kane, a Belgian Malinois, as one of the main characters.
He writes from Kane’s point of view through the use
of italics, and uses the present tense to capture the dog’s
mindset since most live in the moment. The relationship between
Kane and Tucker is heartfelt and as strong a bond as any human
companionship. Readers might think to accept this animal story
you have to put belief to one side, but not true. As someone
who has done research and written articles on military dogs,
I can attest to the believability and realism.
Any dog lover will appreciate the quote, “No wonder
I like dogs better than people.” Rollins captures what
all dog lovers feel from their furry companion: the unconditional
love, loyalty, and honesty. Being a veterinarian, he is able
to explain animal behavior through Kane’s actions.
Rollins noted, “If people acted like dogs the world
would be a better place. I hoped to show in this book how
amazing military dogs and their handlers are, especially since
dogs can string together words to form commands and actions.
I went to Lackland Air Force base and watched how they work.
I was actually given the idea a few years ago when on a USO
author book tour to Iraq, I met a former college classmate.
He is now a vet and works with Army dogs.
While Rollins concentrates on Kane, Blackwood writes about
Tucker’s mindset towards the enemy. Any Special Forces
person feels it is their duty to find and destroy, to seek
out the enemy and eliminate the threat. Throughout the book
Blackwood makes it obvious that Tucker has no apprehension
about killing the bad guys, and anyone who becomes an enemy
combatant becomes a target.
Blackwood stated, “It is the capriciousness of war.
You can follow your training, excel at everything you do,
but if you are one foot to the right at the wrong second the
bullet that would have missed you ends up killing you. Any
kind of firefight is such a chaotic environment, you just
cannot worry about dying.”
Readers through this book quote, “such was the changeable
nature of war, where life, death, disfigurement, were measured
in inches and seconds,” will understand the dangers
a military person must go through each and every day, that
a firefight in itself presents chaotic a environment.
The authors also gave a heads up about the next book in the
series. In the second book a former flame of Tucker lands
on his doorstep with child in tow and requests his help. The
Sigma team will make a cameo appearance after Tucker realizes
he is in over his head and asks them for help. This plot will
deal with germ warfare and surveillance systems. Rollins describes
it as a techno-scientific-thriller.
Because the authors feel strongly about military personnel,
they hope that this book appears authentic. It is a fantastic
adventure story with non-stop action. But it is more than
that because The Kill Switch shows the close bond
between dog and partner, and the readers will fall in love
with this canine and his handler.
of other titles in this series
Kill Switch #1