The Doomsday Key, James Rollins (Morrow)


A case could be made that this guy doesn’t write novels—he builds roller coasters. Rollins, author of a string of high-intensity action thrillers (and, let’s not forget, his excellent adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), puts his characters at the top of the ride, gives them a push, and lets them go racing off into adventure. In this, the latest Sigma Force novel, a series of baffling incidents around the world are linked by a mysterious symbol, a cross inside a circle, which may connect the incidents to the ancient Druids and, of all things, the Domesday Book (which, in case you’ve forgotten, was commissioned by William the Conquerer, in the late eleventh century, to be a complete survey of England’s people and lands). Like Matthew Reilly, Rollins excels at combining action and history with larger-than-life characters, and also like Reilly, he creates imaginative puzzles for his characters to solve. The books are designed to propel the reader through to the end: snappy dialogue, brief chapters, short paragraphs. You are so engrossed in the story that you turn the pages without realizing it, and soon you’re finished, perhaps a little bit out of breath, but usually exhilarated. A must for pure action fans.

This review originally appeared in Booklist, May 2009.

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