Bone Labyrinth, by James
Rollins, is a thriller that tugs at the reader’s hearts.
There are two plots, one historical and one scientific. This
novel explores many important current topics including animal
experimentation, the relationship between the guerilla and
man, as well as the genetic make-up of a human’s brain.
This 11th Sigma Force novel has Painter Crowe, the director,
assigning Commander Gray Pierce, to investigate an attack
on a group of scientists exploring a massive cave in the mountains
of Croatia. One of the scientists, geneticist Lena Crandall,
along with her twin sister, Maria, is attempting to find the
origin of human intelligence. Maria’s research centers
on her work with a three-year-old male lowland gorilla, Baako,
who’s a hybrid of gorilla and Neanderthal genes. After
Maria and Baako are kidnapped, the action-packed story begins.
The story is told in alternating chapters involving two sets
of protagonists. The first group is comprised of one of a
pair of twins, an American scientist studying the evolution
of human intelligence, a Catholic priest and some Sigma Force
members assigned to rescue them after things go bad in a cave
in Croatia. This piece is more of a historical quest. The
other group, who wind up in a vast, underground science facility
in China, is comprised of the second twin scientist, some
other Sigma Force members, and Baako, the young gorilla who
is the subject of the twins' research. Many readers will be
drawn more to Baako and his story, turning every page as they
wonder what will be his ultimate outcome. This sub-plot involves
more of the science and genetics piece of the story as the
Chinese scientists attempt to harvest some of the DNA of the
animals to engineer a stronger solider.
There is a powerful scene in the book where Sigma operatives
Monk Kokhalis and Kimberly May are embedded in a Chinese zoo.
Rollins commented, “I spent a week in Beijing, Hong
Kong, and Shanghai. I joked with my editor after I finished
the book I will never be allowed back in China. This scene
is taken from my reaction. I was appalled, some of which,
could not even put in the book. For example, I found out that
fifteen years ago, at the zoo restaurant, they would serve
animal body parts. I was shocked how the patrons of the zoo
treated the animals, banging on their cages, throwing things
at them, and as I describe in the book pouring a coke on top
of a Mongolian bear.”
Rollins noted he did extensive research from watching clips
of the Lion, Christian, who was released into a reserve after
having been a pet for years. When his human handler finds
Christian in the wild the lion charges, hugs, and plays with
him. He also read about a pet gorilla that was also released
into the wild, was found, and brought the family over to meet
the human handler.
The reason Rollins chose to write about a gorilla instead
of a chimp is explained in the book: from a genetic viewpoint
98% of the Chimpanzees are like us whereas gorillas are 97%.
Yet, from an intelligent and thinking standpoint gorillas
are closer to humans than Chimps. The author’s description
of how Baako looks at the world seems very plausible, having
a sharper sense with a very emotional understanding of the
past, present, and future. The best scenes are between Baako
and Maria, which mirror a mother/child bond.
The Bone Labyrinth blends intense action with thrilling
plots that are sprinkled with interesting historical and/or
scientific facts. A fabulous adventure that is heart wrenching
and action packed.