cover image Crucible


James Rollins. Morrow, $28.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-238178-1

At the start of bestseller Rollins’s imaginative 14th Sigma Force novel (after 2017’s The Demon Crown), Sigma Force commander Gray Pierce and his best friend, Monk Kokkalis, return to Monk’s house in Silver Spring, Md., after a night out to find the place a wreck. Monk’s wife, Kat, is lying unconscious on the kitchen floor, and Monk’s two daughters, six-year-old Penny and five-year-old Harriet, and Gray’s pregnant wife, Seichan, have been abducted. The operatives learn that the home invasion occurred shortly after a massacre in Portugal that claimed the lives of five women who led an international network of female scientists, which funded groundbreaking AI research conducted by 21-year-old genius Mara Silviera. Mara, who believes that accessing her work was the killers’ goal, is on the run for her life, a plot line that overlaps with the search for Penny, Harriet, and Seichan. Rollins does a good job keeping the action moving, but the future scientific developments he presents fall short of the standards set by Michael Crichton. Author tour. Agents: Russ Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency; and Danny Baror, Baror International. (Jan.)