Monday, November 7, 2011

Altar of Eden by James Rollins

Back of the Book Blurb: 
Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked—and something horrific is set loose upon the world.
Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there is something disturbingly wrong with these beasts—each an unsettling mutation of the natural order, all sharing one uncanny trait: incredibly heightened intelligence.
Joining forces with U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard—a man who shares with her a dark and bloody past—Lorna sets out to uncover the truth about this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses. Because a beast escaped the shipwreck and is running amok—and what is about to be born upon the altar of Eden could threaten not only the future of the world but the very foundation of what it means to be human.

Review:    Genetics, fractal science, giant alligators named Elvis, cutting edge weapons research, Cajuns, romance, and the biblical story of Genesis - woo hoo!  What a great combination in the hands of James Rollins, one of the best thriller writers out there.  His novels combine adventure, mystery, science and the fabulous ingredient of "what if?" to create exciting page-turners.  As with his previous stories, Altar of Eden is set in real locations and affected by real events, and in just a few pages I was completely sucked in and couldn't put it down.
Jack Menard is a great action hero.  He's smart, brave and honorable, with a military background and a history of honorable actions.  Lorna Polk (love the name, a nice nod to the Louisiana military post of Ft. Polk) is a veterinarian with a tragic past and an inner core of strength and steel.  She and Jack come together to solve the mystery of the animals discovered in the trawler, and with one tragedy and ten years apart separating them, their reunion is awkward.  But circumstances soon become so extreme that action is the only language, and their past acts as a bond.  That bond is further strengthened as they depend on each other throughout the intense hunt for a rogue animal, and the vicious attack at Lorna's research facility.  Their growing feelings for each other are believable and make a nice counterpoint to the non-stop action.
The little details make the story, and information about weapons, alligator farms and swamps, veterinary medical details, animal behavior and more really add to the overall plot, creating a rich story.
One of my favorite parts of a Rollins novel is the end, when he describes what is real in the book.  The fact that so much of his novels are based on actual science, events and places make them that much more believable, even when human genetic throwbacks with Borg-like mental communications are storming a tropical villa!
For more information visit the author's website at

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