Review

The Doomsday Key

by James Rollins

Just before he is murdered outside a Red Cross camp in Africa,
Jason Gorman, son of an influential United States Senator, sends an
email to his father. Attached are files about recently harvested,
genetically modified corn growing in Africa. As he is stalked
inside St. Peter’s Basilica by a crossbow-bearing assassin, a
Vatican archaeologist who has been researching the roots of Celtic
Christianity leaves behind a leather pouch with a grizzly clue.

Back in the United States, Sigma Force, a team of highly-skilled
Special Forces soldiers trained in scientific disciplines and
acting as field operatives, is called on to investigate. As
readers familiar with James Rollins’s previous Sigma Force
novels know, the purpose of the Sigma Force is to investigate and
secure sensitive scientific information that could threaten the
welfare of the United States.

The body count rises when a pair of Sigma Force operatives
probes into the Senator’s son’s death and visits a
biohazard lab at Princeton University. In the midst of analyzing
the DNA studies of the genetically altered corn, which have been
forwarded to him by Senator Gorman, a famed geneticist is tortured
and killed inside the biohazard lab shortly before the Sigma Force
operatives arrive.

The bizarre murders on three continents share a gruesome link
--- all three victims have a Druidic pagan cross burned into their
flesh. Each of the murdered also has a connection to Viatus
International. Because of the nature of the deaths, the role of
Sigma Force becomes paramount in the investigation.

Meanwhile, Ivar Karlsen, head of Viatus International, has
called a World Food Summit in Oslo, Norway. Karlsen meets with
members of the Club of Rome to warn them of a global crisis. The
Club of Rome is an international think tank composed of
industrialists, world leaders, scientists --- even royalty.

From the frozen fjords of Norway to the busy streets of Rome,
the distant ruins of medieval abbeys and the lost tomb of a Celtic
Saint, members of Sigma Force risk danger and death to discover a
plot that reaches back to medieval times and threatens the
existence of the world.

THE DOOMSDAY KEY fuses science, technology, religion and myth
into an unstoppable thriller. Like Rollins’s other Sigma
Force novels, it has a creative and frightening premise with
larger-than-life heroes and villains battling each other on a
global canvas. While Rollins is known for his complex and
compelling plots, his latest novel also has well-developed and
engaging minor characters, along with a touch of
politics through mention of overpopulation, genetically
modified food and the military’s “don’t ask,
don’t tell” policy on gays in the armed forces.

The section found at the back of the book, “The
Author’s Note to Readers: Truth or Fiction,” gives
details about several elements portrayed in the novel, and is
a welcome addition. I found especially fascinating the author's
notes on the prophecies of Saint Malachy, the Doomsday
Book and several locations mentioned in the book.

The DOOMSDAY KEY is an entertaining, informative and
thought-provoking thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning
the pages while pondering “What if?”

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (dvolkenannt@charter.net) on January 21, 2011

The Doomsday Key
by James Rollins

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0061231401
  • ISBN-13: 9780061231407