Bloodline by James Rollins begins in the summer of 1134. A female knight, one of the nine original members of the Knights Templar, murders a pilgrim and a fellow Templar knight in order to gain possession of a staff, The Bachal Isu. Before his death, the pilgrim reveals his age-520 years old. The staff purportedly “wielded by Moses, carried by David and borne by the King of Kings,” may hold the key to immortality. The Bachal Isu is the staff of Jesus Christ.
Fast forward to present day. A pregnant woman is kidnapped off the coast of Somalia, her husband murdered during the brutal raid. The woman is Amanda Gant-Bennett, the daughter of President James Gant. President Gant enlists the help of Sigma, a secret organization headed by Director Painter Crowe. Crowe contacts his best people: Seichan, a woman formerly employed by the Guild, a shadowy group hell-bent on Sigma’s destruction, Commander Gray Pierce, who is dealing with a father in the throes of Alzheimer’s and a less than cooperative brother, and Joe Kowalski, who likes to “blow crap up.”
Director Crowe has a secret weapon to add to his team: Tucker Wayne. Tucker served two tours in Afghanistan, and comes with a partner, a Belgian shepherd named Kane. Kane is a remarkable animal, with a vocabulary of a thousand words, the knowledge of a hundred hand gestures and a link to Tucker that makes them an extremely efficient team in the field. Gray and his team need Tucker and Kane on this mission, a mission that will take them from the jungles of Africa to the sprawling wonder of Dubai.
Amanda Gant-Bennett has not been kidnapped by pirates or mercenaries. She has been kidnapped by a British doctor working for the Guild. Amanda’s baby, a boy, is the product of science. Amanda and her husband, Mack, were unable to conceive, and became pregnant thanks to a fertility clinic in South Carolina. Days before her husband is murdered and she is kidnapped, Amanda receives a note, hinting at a dark plan to harm her and and her baby, along with cryptic information about her baby’s health. Is the note truly an attempt to protect Amanda, or part of a plan to gain access to her extraordinary baby?
Bloodline twists and turns, drawing us into the plot and never letting go. There are points in the book that are written from Kane’s perspective, and the reader feels the dog’s bond with Tucker. You see the world at that moment through Kane’s eyes, you smell what he smells, and your heart beats faster and faster as Kane closes in on his target. You know just how deeply this man and this dog care for one another, from the ritual nose touch before Tucker sends Kane out into the field to the risks Tucker Wayne will not take when it comes to his partner.
Commander Pierce’s team joins together with the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a newer division of British Special Forces. Seichan is taken by the three members of SSR, who are quick to tell her she’s lucky it’s them and not Mossad: Mossad has a shoot to kill order on Seichan. Kane tracks Seichan to her captor’s location, and after the initial confusion, and injuries (to the SSR team), the powers that be tell them to play nicely and work together.
Director Crowe is in DC, working with Captain Kat Bryant, his second in command, and Dr. Lisa Cummings, his girlfriend, to find any details that will help Commander Pierce and his team locate and rescue the president’s daughter. Kat and Lisa offer to visit South Carolina, and see what they can learn at the fertility clinic. Crowe, after some convincing, agrees, and the two women fly into South Carolina, Kat as a woman, down on her luck, looking to sell her eggs, and Lisa, as herself with one small new detail-she is posing as a private doctor with an elite Washington DC clientele.
For readers familiar with the Sigma Force novels, you will recall that Director Crowe is also working on finding out the secrets of the Guild and the connection between one of the most powerful families in America and the secret organization. In Bloodline, Director Crowe finally discovers, with the help of Jason Carter, a former hacker turned intelligence specialist for Sigma, Captain Kat Bryant and Dr. Lisa Cummings, that his suspicions were correct all along, and learns the secrets of this family go farther back than even he realized.
Bloodline is an amazing book. Tucker Wayne and Kane are a truly inspiring addition to the Sigma Force team. James Rollins was inspired to create Tucker Wayne and Kane after visiting Afghanistan and meeting with soldiers and their war dogs. Tucker and Kane are also featured in the short story, Tracker. James Rollins does something rare in this book-he takes the female characters out of “accessory” mode and places them front and center. Lisa Cummings and Kat Bryant are key elements to Bloodline, and through their amazing heroism, Sigma discovers the truth behind the Guild and details that ultimately save two important lives. And as he does with all his books, James Rollins includes notes both in the beginning and the end, detailing how and where he found his information.
According to James Rollins and his sources, immortals already walk among us. We are already manipulating DNA, creating machines that think for themselves and combining flesh and technology. Who knows, perhaps we are creating immortal beings. In Bloodline, James Rollins asks the ultimate question: how far would you go in order to live forever?
Please visit www.jamesrollins.com for a synopsis of Bloodline and more information on all of James Rollins’ books. For a look inside the mind of James Rollins, please read my interview with him right here at Mad Mike’s America.