“Sandstorm” by James Rollins

Book Cover - Sandstorm

If you’re looking for a little syfy, lots of science, tons of thrills and even a romance packed into a great book, then “Sandstorm” should be your next read.  


A mysterious blue ball of fire explodes in the Kensington Gallery in the British Museum, the security guard is incinerated, and almost all the artifacts destroyed. The benefactor of the exhibit, Kara Kensington, is sure there is a connection between the explosion and her father’s death from blue fire in the Arabian desert years before. Dr. Safia al-Maaz (curator of the gallery and childhood friend of Kensington) uncovers a clue in the middle of the destruction to an incredible secret, and demonstrates unusual capabilities for a curator. The bodies pile up after an assault on the gallery is made.  


Painter Crowe is an agent for Sigma Force, a covert group working for the US government to keep scientific discoveries safely in US control. Cassandra is his previous ally, has stolen secrets and is now working for the opposition. Dr. Crowe is dispatched to London to investigate the possibility that the explosion was caused by anti-matter – has someone uncovered an unlimited energy source?  


An expedition to the Arabian Peninsula and Ubar, the lost city of the desert and source of all anti-matter secrets, is organized. Dr. al-Maaz reluctantly travels along, unwilling to face her former fiancé, Omaha Dunn, the archeologist/Indiana Jones type needed on the expedition. Crowe and his partner are forced upon the trip by the US government, but nobody knows the real reason behind the interference.  


And that’s just Part 1. “Sandstorm” gets even more exciting as the plots develop.  


Part of the fun of reviewing novels is taking a look at the book that launched a dynamite series. “Sandstorm” is the first of eight in the bestselling Sigma Force stories, and it’s easy to see why there are so many fans. The unexpected twists make this a page-turner as we root for the very likable main characters to overcome the obstacles of storms, ancient curses, and government entities. Even the bad guys are interesting and make worthy adversaries for the heroes.  


“Sandstorm” incorporates lots of real science in the action-packed storyline, and it’s so well done that I began to wonder how much was fiction and how much actual fact. Happily, Rollins includes a fact disclosure at the end of the book for the curious. No plot spoiler here, but who knew that buckyballs were real?  


One of the intriguing subplots involves gals from an ancient sister society. They have the ability to disappear at will in front of your eyes – I REALLY want to learn that trick. Thrilling five-star adventure! With scene after scene of slam-dunk writing, and an ending designed for the big screen, I’d love to see a movie made of this one. I’m casting the major roles in my mind right now.  


For more information about James Rollins, the Sigma Force series, his work in YA fiction, as well as his collaboration with Rebecca Cantrell for the 'Blood Gospel' series, visit          



“Wrongful Death” by Robert Dugoni


Book Cover - Wrongful Death2

David Sloane comes off a big courtroom win (the 18th in a row) and seems unstoppable in the legal arena. Then, an impossible situation is placed before him: challenge the military to acknowledge a widow’s claim that her husband died a wrongful death while fighting for his country. What should be an easy case to turn down, becomes a personal issue when a preliminary review of the paperwork indicates something stinks. But, what?


The case evolves into a legal grenade tossed into the world of government contracts and the big players involved. The damage is messy and unpredictable. Sloane’s family is threatened, witnesses are dying and the stakes are higher than anyone had imagined. He calls on friend and former CIA operative turned P.I., Charles Jenkins, to help find answers and arrange protection for his new wife and stepson.


Bestselling author and former lawyer, Robert Dugoni, has written a legal thriller that combines courtroom drama with explosive investigation in the field and flashbacks to a military convoy traveling through hostile Iraqi territory. Dugoni reveals some of the facts of the Iraqi operation through the eyes of the dead man being defended.


“Wrongful Death” flows seamlessly between the flashbacks and present day events and was tough to put down. Almost none of the action seems far-fetched. Dugoni has created a suspenseful story so realistic that I can imagine a lawyer and his family being thrust into these circumstances and then dealing with the fallout in just these ways – if I had two top-notch operatives as friends.


Kudos to Dugoni for writing the two lead women in the book (wife-Tina, bodyguard-Alex) as smart and resourceful without becoming cartoonish; relying on brains to stay alive. And the action involving Sloane that is a little over the top, is just plain fun. Who wouldn’t want a tank coming to the rescue, just when you need it?


I met Robert Dugoni when he was teaching a writing class at a NYC conference. “Wrongful Death,” the second in the ‘David Sloane’ strand, had just come out and Dugoni autographed the book for me. I’m especially delighted that I waited in line because this one is a keeper. An equally intelligent screenplay would make for a great movie.


"Wrongful Death" (2009) was followed by "Bodily Harm," (2010) "Murder One," (2011) and "The Conviction." (2012) Dugoni has written other, stand-alone novels, as well as co-authoring a non-fiction title, “The Cyanide Canary,” a true crime story.


For more information about Robert Dugoni and his work, visit





“Killing Floor” by Lee Child

Book cover - Killing Floor


“I was arrested in Eno’s Diner” – the phrase that began the wildly successful Jack Reacher series.


Reacher strolls into a spotless, apparently prosperous little Georgia town, looking for a man his brother suggested he check out –  a musician from the area. Reacher eats breakfast in a brand new local diner and less than thirty minutes later, gets thrown in jail for a murder, just because he’s a stranger in town who passed a crime scene on his walk into the burg. But, he knows he hasn’t killed anybody. “Not for a long time, anyway.” Events go from bad to much worse. Within a few hours, he is taken to prison along with another innocent man and both are ‘mistakenly’ delivered to the 'Killing Floor.' Only Reacher’s exceptional skill set saves them from becoming two more bloody smears on the Floor.


Reacher is a loner who likes women and thinks of each of them kindly, fondly, respectfully. But, enjoying his six months of freedom on the road after years of following orders as a military brat and then doing a stint in the service as an MP, he is not thinking of settling in one place any time soon. He doesn’t even have a suitcase – he buys new clothes, takes the dirty ones off his back and throws them away. No need for a car either – he walks everywhere.


It is impossible to discuss the plot points without giving away the incredible story, but the thrill ride is spectacular and never disappoints. The bad guys are evil, the murders vicious and the twists and turns truly surprising. Throw in the reason for the entire town keeping a secret, as well as his own brother’s involvement in that secret, and Child hooks his readership for good.


“Killing Floor” was a solid beginning in 1997 to the tough guy Jack Reacher series and won the Anthony Award as well as the Barry Award. It is not a gentle read, but “Killing Floor” makes me want to find out more about Reacher’s inner workings. Lots of people choose to travel for a bit, but what would really cause Reacher to choose the life of a rambling man, off the radar, without even a mobile phone to call his own? Child has legions of fans that have followed the Reacher character through 17 books, quite satisfied with plots, action, and what makes Reacher tick. "A Wanted Man," published in 2012, received the UK National Book Award for Thriller and Crime Novel of the year.


Reacher enthusiasts are anticipating the release of the movie, "Jack Reacher," opening on December 21st. Tom Cruise fans (and detractors) are curious to see whether or not he measures up to the very tall shadow cast by the character developed during the 17 book (#18 comes out next year) run. Child is very happy with the casting and "Rolling Stone" says that Cruise nails it.


I can't wait.


(R for adult situations, violence, and some language.)


For more information about Lee Child and his books, visit




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