This is the second re-reading for me – the first was when it came out. Of course I didn’t recall a thing, memory lapses can be a good thing! This is a Sigma Force novel, featuring the entire cast. Sigma Force is a shadowy organization, operating under DARPA – an elite group of handpicked military experts from all forces, put into rigorous doctoral programs to give them the specialized knowledge they need to safeguard or neutralize technologies vital to US interests. Monk, an operative with a bioprothesis arm, and Dr. Lisaa Cummings, on loan to Sigma and the new girlfriend of Director Painter Crowe, have been sent undercover with WHO to a cruise ship anchored off Christmas Island, northeast of Australia, where a strange and fatal plague seems to be breaking out. Meanwhile, Commander Gray Pierce has been sent to Europe to attend a book auction where several arcane Victorian scientific books are being auctioned off, including the Darwin family bible. Instead of just observing the participants, to see who is spending so much time collecting these books, he gets involved and ends up with a young teen-age girl in his care. And someone is after him, the girl and the bible. Figuring out that Marco polo is involved, he follows a trail of Marco Polo throughout Europe, the Mid-East, and Asia, and he is joined by Monsignor Verona (Map of Bones), as they follow this trail of secrets. Meanwhile the hospital ship has been seized by terrorists, turning it into a bio-weapons lab as they seek to identify the cause of the disease and find a cure, so they can use it. They force Dr. Cummings to work on it, but Monk escapes at one point, in the pirate’s lair harbor where they have parked the cruise ship, unseen from prying eyes. Full of tortuous secrets, ancient temples, pirates, terrorists, and cannibals, this is one exciting book, and is a nail-biter. I really enjoyed this thrill ride.
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