An elite scientific military force must combat a plague beyond any cure—a scourge that turns all of nature against mankind in this nail-biting new thriller from James Rollins, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sigma Force series.
From the depths of the Indian Ocean, a horrific plague has arisen to devastate humankind – unknown, unstoppable…and merely a harbinger of the doom that is to follow.
Operatives of the shadowy covert organization Sigma Force, Dr. Lisa Cummings, and Monk Kokkalis search for answers to the bizarre affliction aboard a cruise liner transformed into a makeshift hospital. But a sudden and savage attack by terrorist hijackers turns the mercy ship into a floating bio-weapons lab.
Time is an enemy as a worldwide pandemic grows rapidly out of control. As the seconds tick closer to doomsday, Sigma’s commander, Gray Pierce, must join forces with the beautiful assassin who tried to kill him – following the trail of the most fabled explorer in history into the terrifying heart of an astonishing mystery buried deep in antiquity and in humanity’s genetic code.
The special-ops trained scientists of Sigma Force battle the criminals of the shadowy Guild in bestseller Rollins's lively third Sigma Force thriller (after Black Order). An ancient and deadly plague, the Judas Strain (which afflicted Marco Polo), has suddenly re-emerged. Gray Pierce, a Sigma operative, and Seichan, a Guild defector, pursue clues to the nature of the plague to the Vatican, Istanbul (with a fine shootout in the Hagia Sophia mosque), Marco Polo's tomb and, finally, Cambodia's Angkor Wat. Meanwhile, Guild members hijack a cruise ship full of plague victims (to provide experimental subjects for the weaponizing of the plague), and Gray's parents are taken hostage (though the senior Grays prove feistier than their kidnappers reckon). Sophisticated the plot isn't, but Rollins includes more than enough action and suspense to keep readers turning pages. 8-city author tour.
Strong start, weaker finish
The Judas Strain is not one of the best SIGMA books out there, but the story and characters are the ones we all crave. The heroes with their inner demons, the victims who rise up in strength, and the comic relief, the cruel and despicable bad guys. The ending falls a little short for me. Not horribly so. Just enough to lean more toward the 4-Star level. Do love Kowalski though because he is so much like a few ex-military guys I know.
Like all Rollins stuff - good fun, connections to the real world and great imaginations of science. Always worth the escape. This one was a little less heavy handed in the drama repetition and kept a pretty good clip.
Prescient pandemic fiction
Reading this fiction novel in 2021, while we’re in the 2nd year of a global pandemic, has special resonance. Unfortunately, reality is worse than fiction. Still I appreciate the mind candy diversion that is the Sigma Force series, although I find this author’s template so predictable- protagonist is threatened by secret cabal, gets blackmailed by terrorist but can’t tell anyone about it, and is seriously outgunned by said cabal. When reality is that we have all kinds of special forces to take on these situations.