The Bone Labyrinth – James Rollins

bone lab

The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins is one of the better Sigma Force novels to come along in some time. This is book #11 and with The Bone Labyrinth, Rollins has upped the bar on scope, imagination and sheer fun. This is Dan Brown on speed. A roller coaster ride of adrenaline that is as challenging intellectually as it is just to hold on, as Rollins barrels his way through the mysteries of science and religion and mankind itself.

“…And who do these bones belong to?’ Kircher asked. ‘Whose grave do they mark?’
The young man answered, his words shocking. Then, before either man could respond, the messenger swiftly drew out a dagger and sliced his own throat from ear to ear. Blood poured forth as the man choked and collapsed first to his knees, then to the floor.
Nicolas rushed to the young man’s aid, cursing at such brutal necessity. It seemed those final words were meant only for Father Kircher and himself, and once dispatched, were never to be spoken again.
Father Kircher rounded his desk and dropped to a knee, taking the young man’s hand between his palms, but his question was for Nicolas. ‘Could it be true?’
Nicolas swallowed, dismayed by the last message spoken through those bloody lips.
The bones…they belong to Adam and Eve…”

In the mountains of Croatia, a subterranean Catholic chapel is unearthed. Inside the bones of a Neanderthal woman are discovered. Also in these caves are elaborate artwork depicting a massive battle between the Neanderthals and these great shadowy figures. Before any answers can be found the team studying the caves are attacked. At the same time, in a primate research center in Atlanta, Georgia, another attack is orchestrated. The link, two scientists, twin sisters, at each sight.

Commander Gray Pierce of Sigma Force and his team are dispatched. What they uncover will span 50,000 years of human history. To uncover the mystery behind these attacks, they must trace the evolution of human intelligence.

“…She sighed loudly, not knowing where to begin or even if this military guy would understand, but she straightened in her chair, wanting to cooperate. ‘My sister and I have been investigating a moment in mankind’s history known as the Great Leap Forward. That point in cognitive development, some fifty thousand years ago, when there was an inexplicable burst of art and innovation.’
Monk nodded. ‘The Big Bang of human consciousness.’
She stared harder at him, realizing maybe there was more behind that pugilist exterior. In the glint of his eyes, she read both amusement and a sharp intelligence.
Okay, then let’s step this up a notch.
‘Modern man first appeared on the scene some two hundred thousand years ago.’ Maria explained. ‘Back then, our rise from our hominin ancestors happened rapidly. According to recent research done by a trio of geneticists at the University of Chicago, this sudden appearance of Homo sapiens is attributable to the rapid mutation of only seventeen brain-building genes. A scant few, really. But from those few changes, there was a cascade effect-a snowballing, if you will-that resulted in hundreds of changes to thousands of genes in a relatively short period of time…”

Gray and his team must follow a trail that take them from the mountains of Croatia, to an Atlanta laboratory, to a forgotten church in Italy, to deep under the Great Zoo of China and to the ancient ruins of a necropolis hidden deep in South America that may well have been the legendary city of Atlantis.

But more than the exotic locales is the path of forgotten history they must follow. To reach that point that was the Great Leap Forward. Because what the sisters were researching, what they were trying to do is recreate the event in another species. Can they introduce genes from another species and in doing so, create a gorilla with the same intellectual abilities as early man?

James Rollins writes novels that will challenge your intelligence, your faith and your adrenaline junkie fix better than any other writer going today. The history and background he presents are a seamless part of the story. Not a moment where the reader must step back, gather some of the research and history to understand what is coming next, but a part of the ebb and flow of the story. Rollins is a master at that. Like any great teacher, he might just teach you something while you were having fun.

The Bone Labyrinth is a fine addition to the legend that is Gray Pierce and the Sigma Force.

A terrific read!

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