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Hieroglyph: Stories and Blueprints for a Better Future
Neal Stephenson
Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated
Natylie Baldwin, Kermit D. Larson
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Paula Hawkins
Our Souls at Night: A novel
Kent Haruf
Above the Waterfall
Ron Rash
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King
Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction
Cathy Whitlock
The Homicide Report: Understanding Murder in America
Jill Leovy
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Erik Larson
The Gods of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Map of Bones - James Rollins This is an action adventure tale, combining both ancient secret societies, a la Dan Brown and other secret societies, a la...well... Ian Fleming. Sigma is the good guy crew here, led by Grayson Pierce, this book's version of 007, ably assisted by his trustee buddy Monk and the relative newbie Kat. It comes complete with an opening action sequence that introduces the two antagonists. When a cathedral in Cologne is assaulted by a crew using strange technology that leaves all present but one dead, and the take is ancient Magi bones, the Church is alarmed. Sigma is called in. There is a secret afoot and a highly competitive treasure hunt in which Sigma tries to outpace not only the Dragon Court, a millennia old cult of alchemists and overall bad guys, but their hired team of assassins, the Guild, led by Pierce's personal enemy, the cold-blooded Dragon Lady. Joining Pierce in his attempts to find out who, what and where is Rachel Verona, Vatican Caribinieri and niece to a Vatican big-wig. Raoul, the major bad guy is straight out of central casting, lacking only steel braces. There are plenty of sub-mysteries concerning who is in which side in both the Vatican and Sigma, which adds some spice. Of particular value here are the technology, both real and speculative, and the offered history. A definite plus. Rollins is not the tightest writer in terms of offering reasonable explanations for the twists and turns of the story. Far too often he relies on silliness like "Gray had memorized the layout of the castle." This grows in frequency as we near the end. Another gripe is that the book seems a series of chases and battles with not all that much to connect them for the first 100 pages. That abates a bit thankfully. Rollins offers the mandatory climactic thunderstorm, a reasonable quantity of blood and guts, hints of sexual attraction, a bit of perversion, but focuses on the story and keeps it moving at a hectic pace. Good fun. Leave your disbelief on a hanger somewhere.