Books Read in 2017

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1. Sand Storm - James Rollins - This was a good story that combined anti-matter and ancient and modern times. It starts with an earthquake in the middle east that just about levels an historical site but that also opens up an unknown room where an ancient book had once been stored. This book was supposedly the gospel of Jesus. Then in London, at the British Museum, a strange explosion occurs that has the ear marking of an matter/anti matter explosion. This fact brings in Sigma to investigate specifically Painter Crowe and his beautiful assistant, Coral Novak. When an ancient artifact exposed in the explosion points the way toward Ubar, the legendary “Atlantis of the Sands”. Painter travels across the world in search of the lost city and a destructive power beyond imagining in an attempt to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Unfortunately Painter has competition. A band of ruthless mercenaries, led by a former friend and ally Cassandra, are also intent on claiming the prize, and they will destroy anyone who gets in their way. Ancient history collides with cutting-edge science with the safety of the world at stake! The description of Ubar is especially vivid. A city underground made of sand stone and glass. This was a good story that I could see myself reading again at some point.
2. The Hunt For Atlantis - Andy McDermott - This was the first book from a new author and I really enjoyed it. McDermott is like a clone of James Rollins who I also really like. The story unfolds as a graduate student is trying to pursue her degree by speculating on where Atlantis might be located. Her adviser rejects her proposal saying Atlantis is just a legend and that she should find something else for her dissertation. In steps an ultra rich Norwegian who offers to finance an expedition to see if she is correct about the location. So off to Brazil they go after following various leads and they find an unknown tribe of natives that are protecting a copy of Atlantis where the Atlantians went after their island off the coast of Portugal collapsed into the sea. They soon find an enemy (which happens to be an ancient society called the Brotherhood) who is trying to erase all traces of the civilization because they consider Atlantians evil. Of course a battle occurs which results in the underground city being totally destroyed. From clues they found prior to the city's destruction they determine the location of the original Atlantis so off they go again. As they are researching the sunken city, they are again attacked by the Brotherhood and their research vessel is sunk in an attempt to destroy all traces of the ancient city. To save the crew of the research vessel from being murdered, the graduate student, Nina Wilde,  offers up herself and leads the Brotherhood to the last remaining Atlantian city in Nepal. Her bodyguard and protector ex-SAS Eddie Chase sets out to rescue her at the final Atlantian site. Come to find out the rich Norwegian backer finds out that about 15% of the people distributed across the Earth have Atlantian genes so he bio-engineers a virus that will kill everyone without this gene so that descendants of the Atlantians can once again rule the Earth like they did in antiquity. Nina is placed on a jumbo jet carrying the virus and will be killed if she doesn't agree to join their cause. Chase get on board and of course messes up their plans and ends up getting the jet to crash into the Norwegian's labratory. In the end the plot is destroyed along with the Norwegian and his lab. This was a good read because the plot twist of having the Norwegian be the bad guy was not revealed until the last minute. I've already download the next McDermott book and an looking forward to another good story.
3. The Tomb of Hercules - Andy McDermott - Another adventure in which Eddie Chase and Dr. Nina Wilde find themselves in mortal danger while trying to find the legendary tomb of Hercules. Dr. Wilde was prohibited from claiming the discovery of Atlantis so she was dead set on finding another ancient marvel that she could discover and confirm her place in the world of archeology. The adventure starts off with Eddie going to Singapore to rescue his ex-wife Sophia. Little did he know that the rescue was all a part of a plan that Lady Sophia Blackwell was hatching to not only get back at (and kill) Eddie but also to kill her other two husbands (both in one week) so that she could take over their vast empires. Her plan was to smuggle a nuke on board a ship heading to New York harbor so she could blow it up and crush the world's financial markets with the chaos that would ensue. Her riches would be protected because of the massive amounts of gold and jewels found in Hercules tomb in Africa. Sophia tries to kill Eddie and Nina over and over again as they got progressively closer to thwarting her plan. In the end of course they destroy Sophia's support system and finally bring her to justice as well. They also find that they still love each other and mend their relationship that was strained by the politics of their jobs. This was a decent read but nothing great. Still, I'll go and find another McDermott novel to read while I'm at it.
4. Return To Atlantis - Andy McDermott - More of the same with this story. Eddie and Nina are chased relentlessly by Sophia (Eddie's evil ex-wife) and Stikes who was Eddie's arch nemesis. This time a collection of three statues made from a meteorite were discovered in three separate Atlantis locations across the world and when brought back together they exude a strange earth energy that only a few humans can tap and control; with Nina (she has Atlantian blood in her family) being one of them. Two groups of people are trying to  use this power, one for good and one for evil. The group trying to use this power for good (and who were quickly dispatched) wants to generate unlimited energy for the world. The other group (the bad guys) think the original human DNA was brought to earth on this meteorite and think they can use the original DNA to make a virus that will cause all humans to become docile and follow their orders. Possession of the three statues changes hands multiple times as each side tries to take control for their cause. At the end of the story Eddie and Nina locate the skystone from which the other statues were made in a volcano in Africa. They attempt to destroy the skystone so the bad guys cannot accomplish their goal but in the process almost get themselves killed as the volcano in which the skystone resides erupts because of the concentration of earth energy and Nina's presence. In the end Eddie and Nina narrowly make it out alive but Stikes falls into the lava lake and Sophia dies when the parachute she dives out of a helicopter with catches fire and causes her to fall to a fiery and well deserved death.
5. The Obsidian Chamber - Preston & Childs - I hadn't read a P & C book for a while so I thought I would check this one out. This was like going to a family reunion in that all of the characters from his other books were present in this story. The last P & C book I read had Pendergast swept out to sea with the assumption he was dead but I knew better. I knew he would come back to fight crime with the FBI again. This story mostly centers around Diogenes (Pendergast's evil bother) and his attempt to woo Constance Green who he previously used, got pregnant and then tossed aside. As a result she tried to kill him by pushing him into the volcano on Stromboli island near Italy but that didn't stick either. With Pendergast presumed dead, Diogenes goes to the Riverside Drive mansion and slowly makes his presence known the Constance. Previously he hatched a plot to convince Proctor (Perdergast's butler, driver and body guard) that he had kidnapped Constance so Proctor would travel across the world to try and get her back. Diogenes finally convinces Constance that he was a changed man and tells her he is deeply in love with her and wants her to live with him on his private island. Meanwhile, Pendergast is picked out of the ocean by drug smugglers who, when they find out he is an FBI agent, try to ransom him. Pendergast of course breaks his bondage and kills all of his captors. He quickly heads back to Riverside Drive only to find Proctor and Constance both missing so he has to puzzle out why. In the end Diogenes is tracked to his island hideaway and Pendergast rescues Constance but lets his brother go to wallow in his loneliness and shame. This was a good read and I read the book faster than I have read many other books recently.
6. The Third Gate - Lincoln Childs - I have read many Preston and Childs books and many Preston books so I thought it was time to read a Childs book. I have to say I think this was a very good book that kept me in suspense the whole time. It is a story about a treasure hunter that has found the tomb of what he believes is the first ruler of united Egypt. The tomb is found in the Sudd which is a huge swampy area in Sudan near the source of the Nile. The treasure hunter is under extreme time pressure as the area is situated in what is to become a new reservoir and will soon be flooded. The dig has been kept secret from the Egyptian authorities because of the red tape that would slow things down. They find the tomb under about 40 feet of stinking mud in the Sudd and have built a large excavation facility over the top of it. The doctor on this dig has a research facility for NDE or near death experiences since his wife was clinically dead for 14 minutes and he brought her back (minus her soul come to find out). She was brought to the dig because she seemed to be in contact with a spirit of the dead pharaoh who keeps warning people to stay away. Strange things keep happening at the facility with many people getting hurt or killed and it is attributed to the curse on the site. Knowing the risk of opening the tomb they proceed anyway and find lots of treasure that they came for. Unbeknownst to the treasure hunters the wife is taken over by the mummy in the tomb (who happens not to be who they thought it was: a woman instead of a man) and proceeds to blow up the facility to punish the infidels. It then become apparent that the problems the facility had been experiencing was caused by her and some other unscrupulous archaeologists. Like I said I liked this story alot because of the suspense so I will get another Child's book from the library and see if it is as good. I hope so because it gives me another author to read.
7. Deep Storm - Lincoln Childs - Wow another good book by Childs. In this story a Navy research facility is positioned over an anomaly in the Atlantic ocean that some think might be the remains of Atlantis. This amazing facility is over 12 stories tall and is a city unto itself even though it is located under 2000 feet of ocean. The facility is divided into two levels: the non-classified and the classified levels. Something however is amiss because many of the personnel are becoming sick with unexplained aliments. A specialist name Dr. Crane is brought to the facility to investigate but everything he looks at as a cause is negative. All the while the security of the facility keeps getting more intrusive and soon the scientists are being watched by an elite security force. As the ailments gets worse Dr. Crane is given a clearance so he can continue his investigation in the secure portions of the site. He soon finds that the story of Atlantis was bogus and that the military was actually digging down to the MOHO layer in the Earth's crust because they have found what they believe is alien technology embedded in the ocean floor. As they get close to the boundry, Dr. Crane discovers the reason for the ailments in that peoples brain waves are being manipulated by the alien technology in an attempt to keep people away from this area. Dr. Crane comes to the conclusion that these are warning signs and that the drilling should immediately stop. As things get progressively worse the head of the elite security squad takes over command cause he believes that the alien technology could be used for weapons and so wants to secure it for the USA before some other country finds out. So in the final phase of drilling he descends into the drilled tunnel and finds an alien storage for weapons of unimaginable power built from matter and anti-mater black holes that have been stored there for possible later retrieval. He makes the mistake of trying to touch one of the weapons with a robotic arm which sets off a major explosion that completely destroys the facility. Luckily Dr. Crane has gotten most of the personnel to the escape pod and ascending to the surface when the explosion goes off.

This again was a riveting story and so I am off again to the digital library to find another Childs novel for my next read.
8. Lethal Velocity - Lincoln Childs - This was a different story in that it wasn't directly related to science like most of Childs' other novels. Instead the story is about a terrorist plot against a state of the art amusement park called Utopia that is situated outside of Las Vegas. Utopia is run by an AI network that controls just about everything in the park. When some of the attractions start having issues the designer of the AI network is called in to shut the network down until the problems can be found and fixed. The unexpected arrival of the expert causes the terrorist's plans to have to be accelerated. Their plan was to hold the park hostage until they are given the advanced technology that makes the park run and until they can steal all of the money that normally gets transported from the park in an armored car. The AI expert becomes the unintentional hero as he counters the terrorist every move once he understands what is going on. Of course the bad guys just about pull this off but are stopped when the AI expert attacks the armored car with fireworks used for the nightly displays.

This wasn't Childs' best book I don't think but it was somewhat entertaining anyway.
9. Seventh Plague - James Rollins - A new Rollins novel that brings together Stanley and Livingstone, Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and the Sigma Force team to fight a deadly plague that is spreading across the world. The premise, if the biblical plagues of Egypt truly happened could they happen again–on a global scale?

Two years after vanishing into the Sudanese desert, the leader of a British archaeological expedition, Professor Harold McCabe, comes stumbling out of the sands, frantic and delirious, but he dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when an autopsy uncovers a bizarre corruption: someone had begun to mummify the professor’s body–while he was still alive. His strange remains are returned to London for further study, when alarming news arrives from Egypt. The medical team who had performed the man’s autopsy has fallen ill with an unknown disease, one that is quickly spreading throughout Cairo. Fearing the worst, a colleague of the professor reaches out to a longtime friend Painter Crowe, the director of Sigma Force. The call is urgent, for Professor McCabe had vanished into the desert while searching for proof of the ten plagues of Moses. Before Director Crowe can investigate, a mysterious group of assassins leaves behind a fiery wake of destruction and death, erasing all evidence. With the professor’s body incinerated, his home firebombed, Sigma Force must turn to the archaeologist’s daughter, Jane McCabe, for help. While sifting through what’s left of her father’s work, she discovers a puzzling connection, tying the current threat to a shocking historical mystery, one involving the travels of Mark Twain, the genius of Nikola Tesla, and the adventures of famous explorer, Henry Morgan Stanley.

To unravel a secret going back millennia, Director Crowe and Commander Gray Pierce travel to opposite ends of the globe. One will search for the truth, traveling from the plague-ridden streets of Cairo to a vast ancient tomb buried under the burning sands of the Sudan; the other will struggle to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex, risking the lives of all those he holds dear. Of course there are evil forces at work in both places trying to kill the Sigma Force teams to capitalize on the plague for both monetary and scientific purposes. In the end they find that the cure for the plague is actually in the brain matter of people who have died from the plague but had been partially mummified using the bark from an obscure African plum tree.

This was an OK read but not one of Rollins' best works IMHO.
10. Innocent Blood - James Rollins with Rebecca Cantrell - This is a follow on to their book Blood Gospel which I read last year. Many of the original characters are back including: Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant archaeologist. In Blood Gospel a young boy with cancer is mysteriously cured during an earthquake at Masada Israel while his parents and many other are killed. Little did anyone know the boy became an angel at that time and a key player in the battle to prevent Armageddon. The evil in this story is Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ and was made immortal so that he could bring about the second coming of Christ at the proper time. Stone, Korza and Erin form a powerful triad that with the help of the cured boy angel has the power to save the world from the chaos. Battles for the end of the world are faught between strigoi (unredeemed vampires) and Sanguines (vampires who have pledged allegiance to Christ). In the end the boy angel sacrifices himself so that evil can be destroyed.

This book started slowly but the tension rose and kept my interest until the end. Now onto the next book in the Sanguines series.

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