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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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If you've read any of James Rollins' previous books and hated it/them then I wouldn't bother picking up The Doomsday Key. This latest adventure featuring the men & women of SIGMA follows the same well worn template used for all of Rollin's previous books; namely some violent incident, this time involving the death of a priest in the vatican, leads to SIGMA uncovering a hidden conspiracy and at the same time solving some long hidden historical mystery. Stir in some pseudo-science to give it a pretence to factual accuracy, a bunch of treasures guarded by Indiana Jones-style traps and a series of action set pieces and you end up with a piece of OTT, often ridiculous but none-the-less hugely entertaining action adventure hokum. Nothing more and nothing less.

Assuming that you're a fan of such things and of Rollin's earlier books you'll probably find that The Doomsday Key, despite being entertaining, doesn't quite live up some of his previous efforts. Whilst it ends with an rapid fire, tense finale, the pace of the first two thirds of the book is slightly off and at times the story seems to slow to a crawl or meander badly. The central mystery isn't quite as compelling as it needs to be either and the main sub-plot, involving genetically modified crops, never really catches fire and then simply peters out. There are some great set pieces, such as a blizzard bound fight in the artic reaches of Norway, but they aren't enough to entirely rescue a book that needs to be punchier but gets weighed down with too much exposition.

Rollins also needs to move the whole 'Guild' story arc, that has run since the first Sigma novel, forward. I struggle to remember exactly what the Guild's primary motivation is at times. Its all very well keeping them as an ominous, mysterious, secretive and ruthless threat in the background for a few books but if we don't begin to find out more about them, how they're organised, who their members are, etc I'll begin to lose patience. For the threat to remain palpable they need to be more than a name and a bunch of expedendable mercenaries who get their comupance at the end of each novel. The Doomsday Key sketches in a few new details about SIGMA's main adversaries but leaves just as many questions unanswered.

So, if you're a Rollin's fan you'll no doubt enjoy The Doomsday Key despite its flaws. If you're new to the author I would recommend picking up Sandstorm or one of his earlier standalone novels before tackling this latest one. If you haven't liked any of his previous books then you're unlikely to enjoy this one either. Personally I liked it but I also know he can do much, much better...
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on 7 June 2017
Book appeared ok until I noticed several pages towards the end of the book had been torn and on one page the bottom right hand corner is missing. A piece about two inches by three inches
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2009
Rollins is back on form again with this great novel of population control mixed with conspiracies polar bears, ruthless assassins. Seichan the assassin from the Guild in the earlier books plays a bigger role and we still do not know whose side she is on. As for sacrificing someone as the book cover implies I fail to see who that was apart from a relatively minor character. At the end of the day a very convincing look at population explosion and how to control it to good or bad ends.
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on 5 September 2017
Book exhibits the usual trait of Sigma Force Books with a switch of action at exiting moments and using a timed countdown as chapter headings.
Obviously well researched and maintains interest at all times.
Fast paced.
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on 26 May 2013
I havw read quite a few rollins sigma books and always enjoyed. This one touches places close to me and topics that i know anout. Great book
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on 24 August 2017
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on 3 August 2009
....absolutely loved it. James Rollins goes from strength to strength. Each book is thoroughly entertaining with well written action sequences fitting of the best adventure thriller. The storyline is fast paced, with page turning action involving all the Sigma characters from earlier books.

In particular the section of the book which deals with the Doomsday book in the Lake District is highly entertaining, as is the action sequence that takes place in the icy stretches of Norway. Pure escapism.

Managed to read this book in a very short space of time on holiday. As with all James Rollins books they seem to end far too quickly.

I would thoroughly recommed this book and this author. If you are new to Rollins then start with Sandstorm, the first in the Sigma series and take the very entertaining rollercoaster of a journey through all of the books, I promise you will not be dissapointed. A great book from a fantastic author. I would highly recommend this book.

So heres looking forward to the next one!!!
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on 22 May 2010
Having picked up The Doomsday Key last week, I've been barely able to put it down. My only previous experience of a Rollins novel has been Map of Bones but this new novel beats that hands down. I found the general plot idea, genetic manipulation of crops, fascinating and very well written. It's one of my own hobby-horses and I found the level of research gone into the book was pretty impressive.
I adore Rollins' Sigma Force characters and I can't wait for his next book to come out.
There are a lot of books of this nature on the market at the minute, and I've found some to be really very irritating (such as Steve Berry's Paris Vendetta) but The Doomsday Key is a refreshing change to what can become a stagnated genre.
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys these kind of mystery novels with a twist.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 December 2010
James Rollins has penned a number of excellent escapist novels. I would recommend Ice Hunt, Subterranean, Amazonia and Sandstorm to anyone who enjoys adventuring science/techno-thrillers. I would be more reluctant to do so with this installment of his Sigma series though.

This is yet another thoroughly researched, keep-surviving-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth adventure. Less pronounced in this book yet still present is Rollins' tendency to move from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, with small breathers in between. It is a book to enjoy during a flight or a rainy weekend - and it will keep you turning pages for hours. However, for a number of reasons this would had been a much better book had it not been yet another Sigma sequel.

Sigma simply does not work that good for me. I cannot buy the small number of people undertaking such critical tasks. In fact, Sigma is so understaffed that not only has to rely on certified idiots (sorry Kowalski, but you know it is true...) but even the director himself has to go into the field. They operate all over the world under thin pretexts, they do not even seem to be official sanctioned. And to add insult to injury, most new recruits seem to suffer the Star Trek's away-party odd crew-member fate...

On top of that, Sigma seems to deal with one crisis after another while under attack from both a shadow power group and other government secret services. For a writer who takes great pride in the accuracy of his facts interweaved with his fiction, this requires a continuous leap of faith.

I can understand how having a book franchise can work for both the writer and his publisher. The first has a set framework of characters to weave his new plot with whereas the later has a more or less loyal fun-base to fall back to. However, they should both keep in mind that this does not always work for the reader.

This is a 3.5 stars novel but I rounded it up because Rollins has given a number of techno-thrillers I greatly enjoyed in the past.
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on 22 December 2009
Other reviewers have already given a run-down on the plotline, so I won't go there. Instead I will just say that I loved this book. I think it's one of my favorite Sigma Force novels. If you enjoy stories that are fast-paced, filled with action and adventure and a bit of mystery, you'll enjoy this book.
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