“He didn’t kill animals, and he desperately wanted to keep it that way.… Tucker’s reluctance to harm was a chink in his armor, and he knew it. Ultimately, he truly didn’t know what he would do if his back were against such a wall.”
This is a spin off from the Sigma Force series. The summary below does reveal the survival of one recurring character from that series.
The Kill Switch, by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood
#1 in the Tucker Wayne series
William Morrow, May 2014
388 pages (hardcover)
The mission seems simple enough: extract a pharmaceutical magnate from Russian soil, a volatile man who holds the secret to a deadly bioweapon. But nothing is as it appears to be. A desperate call from Painter Crowe, director of Sigma Force, thrusts Tucker and Kane into a frantic race to rescue the brilliant-but-deluded Abram Bukolov from a cadre of skilled assassins, a deadly team backed by a shadowy Russian general, a figure bent on revenge and power.
Hunted and betrayed at every turn, Tucker and Kane must discover the truth behind a biological threat, a horror out of the ancient past that can be weaponized to terrorize the modern world. The journey of discovery will take the pair across the frozen steppes of Russia to the sun-blasted savannahs of South Africa, from the war-torn mountains of Namibia to the snowy Great Lakes of the United States.
As time rapidly runs out, the deep and intimate bond between dog and soldier will be tested to the extreme. It will take all of their skill, talent, and, most of all, trust in each other to piece together a mystery going back to the origins of life on Earth, re-discover the key to an ancient peril that can destroy the heartland of America, and, with it, the world.
The Kill Switch was good, but not great, which makes it disappointing. I’m used to being wowed by James Rollins’s novels, and this one just didn’t feel special.
Or maybe I should say, the only thing special about it is Kane. I still love Kane, and I love the relationship he and Tucker have. There’s a scene toward the end of the novel where Tucker and Kane are working together to take down a threat. It’s a very different thing from one person working alone, or even two people working together. It’s got action, it’s got heart, and it’s easily the best scene in the book. There just wasn’t enough of it throughout.
I also think it was hard for me reading the entire story from Tucker’s perspective (aside from those few moments we see from Kane’s point-of-view). All of Rollins’s novels, Sigma or otherwise, have a great cast of characters, and maybe Tucker just isn’t leading man material, better suited to be part of a larger cast. I wouldn’t have guessed that before reading this book… but it just felt off somehow, and I realized later that not seeing through the supporting characters’ eyes was a big part of it.
(The fact that it was co-authored might have played a role as well… but that hasn’t been an issue for me with his Sanguines series, written with Rebecca Cantrell.)
Maybe I would have been better off not re-reading Bloodline just before reading this one. That novel is probably my favorite in the Sigma series; it’s a perfect storm of awesome. This one was… enjoyable.
But that’s the thing about being disappointed by a favorite author; even the disappointments are still pretty good. I was just hoping for great.
Does The Kill Switch sound like something you’d pick up? When was the last time you were hoping for great and got good instead?
I’m a big James Rollins fan, I have read every Sigma Force novel out there. I will probably read this one too, but it is too bad that it is not up to his usual ‘by the seat of your pants’ best.
Yeah, it just felt a little off. Really looking forward to the new Sigma book this summer though! Thanks for reading!