A gold medallion is discovered in a lump of coal over a hundred million years old. It contains a code describing human DNA at a time when there were no humans. How could this be? Adam Dove wants to know, but when he starts to investigate, his laboratory is destroyed and a close friend is murdered. Joined by a brilliant biochemist, Linda Garcia, the two are hunted by a Nazi underground bent on retrieving the disk and a mysterious alien presence, which may be more interested in destroying it. Adam and Linda face the most difficult decision of their lives-to leave all they know behind for the chance to discover mankind's origin and purpose.
In 1979, young Adam Dove finds a golden medallion with cryptic symbols in a lump of coal; at the same time, a spacecraft light years away adjusts its course. Twenty years later, Adam, now a biochemist, gets a letter from his childhood doctor that compels him to investigate the nature and origin of the artifact. Soon he's contending with mysterious explosions, Nazis, and a murderous, shapeshifting alien. Doweyko, also a scientist, integrates historical events both tragic and fortean, such as a 1959 coal-mining disaster and anachronistic discoveries of modern objects in million-year-old formations; this makes the first half interesting despite a preponderance of "as you know" infodumping, tone-deaf dialogue, and constant iteration of the attractiveness of Linda Garcia, Adam's molecular biologist colleague. The story falls apart in the second half, when Adam and Linda take to the stars to find the origin of humankind, encountering a series of implausibilities that prose and plot are not able to overcome.