One-Minute Book Reviews

July 30, 2009

‘Princeton Wouldn’t Engage in Corporate Espionage’ — James Rollins’s New Sigma Force Thriller, ‘The Doomsday Key’

Dan Brown’s new novel, The Lost Symbol, will be published on Sept. 15, 2009, but I’m not poring over the clues its publicists are scattering on the Twitter feed for the novel: I couldn’t finish The Da Vinci Code. So I’ve been looking into other thrillers about fraternal or ecclesiastical conspiracies, trying to answer the question, “Are any of these readable?” I found James Rollins’s new Sigma Force novel, The Doomsday Key (Morrow, 431 pp., $27), on a library display of New York Times bestsellers, and the dust-jacket copy said:

“At Princeton University, a famed geneticist dies inside a biohazard lab. In Rome, a Vatican archaeologist is found dead in St. Peter’s Basilica. In Africa, a U.S. Senator’s son is slain outside a Red Cross camp. The three murders on three continents bear a horrifying connection: all the victims are marked by a Druidic pagan cross burned into their flesh.

“The bizarre murders thrust Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force into a race against time to solve a riddle going back centuries, to a ghastly crime against humanity hidden within a cryptic medieval codex …”

This was not a promising beginning, so I’m sure whether I’ll read more of The Doomsday Key than I did of The Da Vinci Code. But here are a few quotes from the book that might help you decide whether it’s for you:

1. “Her methods were brutal – like murdering the Venetian curator – but who was he to judge? He had not walked in her shoes.”

2. “ ‘Great. So now we’re breaking into a prison and a tomb.’ Kowalski sank down and crossed his arms. ‘Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.’”

3. “’Princeton wouldn’t engage in corporate espionage.’”

4. “Gray weighed that information. The Knights Templar were considered to be the keepers of many secrets. Could this be one of them?”

5. “‘The priest should have been more careful to whom he made his confession.’”


  1. I found “The DaVinci Code” a page-turner even though it was trash but the real benefit was that I was moved to read books
    _about_ Brown’s (fictional) contentions. I am not and never have been Christian so all of it was new to me, and a lot would be new to anyone who has not followed the field of Bible criticism.

    Two by Bart Ehrman are especially good – “Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: a historian reveals what we really know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine”, and “Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who changed the Bible and why”. Also Sharan Newman, “The Real History behind The Da Vinci Code”, a more popular version. (I got all of these and more from my public library, BTW.)

    Comment by Azalea — July 30, 2009 @ 11:47 am | Reply

    • Thanks so much for the good suggestions. Bet a lot of people will be interested in the books you suggested (and that I might have enjoyed them more than The Da Vinci Code).

      Always glad to have plugs for libraries, too — especially this week, because I’m going have some things to say soon about a Massachusetts library that chose Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone for its summer reading program despite all the challenges to its credibility, such as the new report from Sierra Leone called the book “A Long Way From Truth.”

      Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — July 30, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

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