The Demon Crown is the 13th book in James Rollins’ Sigma Force Series. It has all the elements I look for in a James Rollins novel – nonstop action, science-based threats, characters who are both smart and badass and who always save the world from a horrible fate, great locations, and a dash of romance and the supernatural. All of these qualities hit my sweet spot when I’m in the mood for an action thriller and make for an enjoyable read.
This time, the terrible fate that threatens the world comes in the form of gigantic prehistoric wasps that are launched on the Hawaiian Islands by an octogenarian Japanese man who believes he has a score to settle. The wasps are devastatingly destructive and prolific, injecting eggs into whatever they sting and eventually killing their hosts by eating them alive from the inside. (Ewww!) This part is told in graphic detail throughout the novel and becomes personal to the Sigma team when one of their teammates is stung. She (and everyone else on the Islands that have been infected) have three days until the wasp larvae kill them, launching a race against time that is a signature of this series.
The source of the wasps is a piece of ancient amber that James Smithson, after whom the Smithsonian Institute is named, found and bequeathed to the museum. It fell into Japanese hands during WWII and a villainous pharmaceutical company had been conducting research on the wasps for decades before the attack on Hawaii. Part of the Sigma team travels to Estonia and Poland to try to discover the origins of the amber, hoping to unlock the secrets to resolving the wasp plague. Another Sigma team travels through the Pacific to find the laboratories that have been researching the wasps. They are hoping the labs have concocted a way to exterminate the wasps and stop the larvae from killing their hosts (Ewww!)
The Demon Crown is very entertaining. James Rollins is skilled at creating imaginative plots that have his scientist-warrior characters rushing around the world to outwit and outgun evil villains and their minions. He leverages his background in science (he’s a veterinarian) to craft situations that take science to unique and unexpected places.
Best of all, this book had me Googling things, which means I was interested in the new information the author was exposing me to. For example, did you know about the Wieliczka salt mines in Krakow, Poland? Over the years, the miners have carved amazing things out of salt, including this underground chapel (yes, those are chandeliers in a salt mine! Cool, huh?)
And then there’s Tallinn, Estonia, a gem of a medieval town on the coast of the Baltic Sea (and the capitol of Estonia). I’ll bet they have a great Christmas market!
I really like it when authors use unique settings or concepts that pique my curiosity.
On the flip side, there is a lot of violence (about what you would find in a typical action movie) and the details about the wasps made my skin itch. So, if either of those are a deal breaker for you, skip this book.
Overall, I give a thumbs up. It was a nice change of pace.
Are you currently reading a book by an Irish author as part of the 12 Months of Reading Goodness challenge? I’ll be blogging about my choice in a couple of weeks.