Map of Bones (Sigma Force Series)

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"The crime is inhumanly cruel with horrific consequences both unthinkable and inevitable. During a service at a cathedral in Cologne, Germany, a band of armed intruders dressed in monks' robes unleash a nightmare of blood and terror, ruthlessly gunning down worshippers and clergy alike. The killers haven't come for the church's gold and valuable artwork, but for a priceless treasure secreted within: the preserved bones of the Three Magi who once came to pay homage to a newborn savior. As they flee the carnage they have wrought, they carry a prize ...
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Map of Bones (Sigma Force Series)

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Overview

"The crime is inhumanly cruel with horrific consequences both unthinkable and inevitable. During a service at a cathedral in Cologne, Germany, a band of armed intruders dressed in monks' robes unleash a nightmare of blood and terror, ruthlessly gunning down worshippers and clergy alike. The killers haven't come for the church's gold and valuable artwork, but for a priceless treasure secreted within: the preserved bones of the Three Magi who once came to pay homage to a newborn savior. As they flee the carnage they have wrought, they carry a prize that could reshape the world." "The Vatican is in turmoil, and Lieutenant Rachel Verona of Rome's carabinieri is assigned to lead the investigation. But no ordinary police organization alone can deal with the bizarre theft and massacre, and SIGMA Force - an elite covert arm of the U.S. Defense Department - is called in under the command of Grayson Pierce. New to SIGMA, Pierce assembles a crack team of scientific and Special Forces operatives to unravel the mystery of the stolen bones, and together they set out on a twisting trail through a labyrinth of clues and dark revelations that carry them to the sites of the Seven Wonders of the World - and to the doorstep of the mystical and terrifying Dragon Court." An ancient, secret fraternity of alchemists and assassins, the master-adepts of the Dragon Court have plans for the sacred remains that will alter the future of humankind in devastating ways that only the maddest of zealots could desire - and they will let nothing and no one stand in their way. Suddenly Pierce, Verona, and the SIGMA team are the hunted as well as the hunters, forced to use every skill they possess to survive as they follow the bones to the ultimate confrontation between darkness and light - in a lost place of history where science and religion will unite to unleash a horror not seen since the beginning of time.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A mysterious biblical object, nefarious Vatican spies and a deadly centuries-old religious cabal-sound familiar? Sacramento veterinarian Rollins offers more Da Vinci Code-style thrills for the seriously addicted. In this seventh outing, hooded men invade midnight mass at the Cologne Cathedral and slaughter almost everyone present, then break open a gold sarcophagus and steal... the bones of the Three Wise Men. Grayson Pierce, top agent in the Department of Defense's covert Sigma Force, takes a team to Rome, joins up with love-interest Rachel Verona, a carabinieri corps lieutenant, and her Vatican official uncle, Vigot. It seems that the Dragon Court, a medieval alchemical cult-cell that still operates within the Catholic Church, is to blame, and it also seems that the bones of the Magi aren't really bones, but the highly reactive Monatomic gold that the group plans to use to accomplish its ultimate goal-Armegeddon. Rollins has few peers in the research department, which makes the historical material fascinating, and he keeps the dialogue believably colloquial and the incidental elements motivated-and plausible for at least short stretches. Clumsy romance is mostly overcome by lots of action. Dan Brown-ers looking for methadone will add to Rollins's usual solid numbers. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When a reliquary containing the bones of the Magi vanishes with the burning of a German cathedral, SIGMA force is rushed in to save the day. The start of a new SIGMA adventure series. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060765248
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/25/2006
  • Series: Sigma Force Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

James Rollins

James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers that have been translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the "top crowd pleasers" (New York Times) and "hottest summer reads" (People magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets—and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

Biography

James Rollins is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of Black Order, Map of Bones and other adventure thrillers. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Ontario, Canada, and St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated with honors from the University of Missouri with a degree in veterinary medicine. And like most veterinarians, he presently shares his home with a Golden Retriever, a Dachshund, and a sixty-five year old parrot named Igor. Rollins currently practices in Northern California, and when not writing or working in his veterinary practice, he can often be found underground or underwater as an amateur spelunker and scuba diver. These hobbies have helped in the creation of his earlier books Subterranean, Deep Fathom, Amazonia, and Sandstorm. His thriller, Black Order, skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists across the country, winning the author countless new fans, and was proclaimed by People magazine as one of last summer's "hottest reads." Map of Bones was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the most likely to win over Dan Brown's faithful audience, and the New York Times rated the book as one the summer's top crowd pleasers.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Rollins:

"I often get asked if I still practice veterinary medicine. While I don't practice full-time, I still do volunteer. I work with a group that traps stray cats, brings them to the shelter, where I spend a day spaying and neutering them. It's basically eight hours of removing genitalia. It's a hobby."

"I am a TV junkie. I have two Tivos and they are constantly full."

"My first job was to flip pizzas. I once got a pie spinning that was ten feet across. I had to spin it on my back to keep it going. Yet, I still love pizza."

"Two hobbies I love -- caving and scuba diving -- are also essential research for my novels. Case in point:

I've always been an avid cave explorer, from the vast systems in Missouri to the lava tubes of Hawaii to the tighter squeezes of the California foothills. But one of my most frightening episodes also allowed me to better describe claustrophobia in my novels. While climbing out of the fairly technical wild cavern, involving lots of rope work, I managed to jam myself midway up a narrow vertical chute. Hung up on my ascending gear midway up the chute, I found myself unable to move up or down. My chest was squeezed between two walls, my left knee turned the wrong way. I could not maneuver, and there was not enough room to get a rescue climber to me. I was trapped. I remember the team leader, leaning down from above, shining his helmet lamp at me. ‘You either find a way to un-jam yourself, or you stay there forever.'

So over the course of a long hour -- wriggling, sweating, cursing, and clawing -- I managed to creep a millimeter at a time out of the jam. After this event, I had a better understanding for panic and the determination born of pure desperation, essential ingredients for to writing thrilling fiction.

But spelunking through caves was not my only ‘research' lesson. Two decades ago, I also took up scuba diving and went on dive trips all around the world: Monterey Bay, Hawaii, South Pacific, Australia. I particularly remember one trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I was informed by the dive master to beware of the many hazards found in the region. ‘On land, Australia has seven of the ten deadliest snakes. The seas are worse. Box jellyfish can kill in minutes. Local sea snakes are some of the most toxic. But worst of all is the stone fish. It looks like a stone, but its spines are loaded with paralytic poison. So be careful what you touch.'

And down we all went, buddied up in pairs, enthusiastic and excited. I dropped toward the reef and adjust my buoyancy until I'm floating just above the reef. All around spread amazing sights: giant clams, a flurry of colored fish, an astounding variety of coral. But I miscalculated my buoyancy, my weight shifted, and I planted a hand into the sand to stabilize my tumble, careful of the razor-sharp coral. Inches from my thumb, a jagged rock suddenly sprouted fins and swam away. I met the gaze of my buddy diver. His wide eyes firmed up the identification. The deadly stone fish. And I had almost slapped my hand on its back. As the fish scurried away, I understood at that exact moment how little Nature cared about the life of a scuba-diving novelist. Down here, Nature ruled. We were only visitors.

This mix of respect and terror is brought to life in my latest novel, The Judas Strain."

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    1. Hometown:
      Sacramento, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 20, 1961
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois

Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Map of Bones

Chapter One

Behind the Eight Ball

JULY 24, 4:34 A.M.
FREDERICK, MARYLAND

The saboteur had arrived.

Grayson Pierce edged his motorcycle between the dark buildings that made up the heart of Fort Detrick. He kept the bike idling. Its electric engine purred no louder than a refrigerator's motor. The black gloves he wore matched the bike's paint, a nickel-phosphorous compound called NPL Super Black. It absorbed more visible light, making ordinary black seem positively shiny. His cloth body suit and rigid helmet were equally shaded.

Hunched over the bike, he neared the end of the alley. A courtyard opened ahead, a dark chasm framed by the brick-and-mortar buildings that composed the National Cancer Institute, an adjunct to USAMRIID, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Here the country's war on bioterrorism was waged across sixty thousand square feet of maximum-containment labs.

Gray cut the engine but stayed seated. His left knee rested against the satchel. It held the seventy thousand dollars. He remained in the alley, avoiding the open courtyard. He preferred the dark. The moon had long set, and the sun would not rise for another twenty-two minutes. Even the stars remained clouded by the shredding tail of last night's summer storm.

Would his ruse hold?

He subvocalized into his throat mike. "Mule to Eagle, I've reached the rendezvous. Proceeding on foot."

"Roger that. We've got you on satellite."

Gray resisted the urge to look up and wave. He hated to be watched, scrutinized, but the deal here was too big. He did manage to gain a concession: to take the meeting alone. His contact was skittish. It had taken six months to groom this contact, brokering connections in Libya and the Sudan. It hadn't been easy. Money did not buy much trust. Especially in this business.

He reached down to the satchel and shouldered the money bag. Wary, he walked his bike over to a shadowed alcove, parked it, and hooked a leg over the seat.

He crossed down the alley.

There were few eyes awake at this hour, and most of those were only electronic. All of his identification had passed inspection at the Old Farm Gate, the service entrance to the base. And now he had to trust that his subterfuge held out long enough to evade electronic surveillance.

He glanced to the glowing dial on his Breitling diver's watch: 4:45. The meeting was set for fifteen minutes from now. So much depended on his success here.

Gray reached his destination. Building 470. It was deserted at this hour, due for demolition next month. Poorly secured, the building was perfect for the rendezvous, yet the choice of venue was also oddly ironic. In the sixties, spores of anthrax had been brewed inside the building, in giant vats and tanks, fermenting strains of bacterial death, until the toxic brewery had been decommissioned back in 1971. Since then, the building had been left fallow, becoming a giant storage closet for the National Cancer Institute.

But once again, the business of anthrax would be conducted under this roof. He glanced up. The windows were all dark. He was to meet the seller on the fourth floor.

Reaching the side door, he swiped the lock with an electronic keycard supplied by his contact at the base. He carried the second half of the man's payment over his shoulder, having wired the first half a month before. Gray also bore a foot-long plastic, carbonized dagger in a concealed wrist sheath.

His only weapon.

He couldn't risk bringing anything else through the security gate.

Gray closed the door and crossed to the stairwell on the right. The only light on the stairs came from the red EXIT sign. He reached to his motorcycle helmet and toggled on the night-vision mode. The world brightened in tones of green and silver. He mounted the stairs and climbed quickly to the fourth floor.

At the top, he pushed through the landing's door.

He had no idea where he was supposed to meet his contact. Only that he was to await the man's signal. He paused for a breath at the door, surveying the space before him. He didn't like it.

The stairwell opened at the corner of the building. One corridor stretched straight ahead; the other ran to the left. Frosted glass office doors lined the inner walls; windows slitted the other. He proceeded directly ahead at a slow pace, alert for any sign of movement.

A flood of light swept through one of the windows, washing over him.

Dazzled through his night-vision, he rolled against one wall, back into darkness. Had he been spotted? The sweep of light pierced the other windows, one after the other, passing down the hall ahead of him. Leaning out, he peered through one of the windows. It faced the wide courtyard that fronted the building. Across the way, he watched a Humvee trundle slowly down the street. Its searchlight swept through the courtyard.

A patrol.

Would the attention spook his contact?

Cursing silently, Gray waited for the truck to finish its round. The patrol vanished momentarily, crossing behind a hulking structure that rose from the middle of the courtyard below. It looked like some rusting spaceship, but was in fact a million-liter steel containment sphere, three stories tall, mounted on a dozen pedestal legs. Ladders and scaffolding surrounded the structure as it underwent a renovation, an attempt to return it to its former glory when it was a Cold War research facility. Even the steel catwalk that had once circumnavigated the globe's equator had been replaced.

Gray knew the giant globe's nickname at the base.

The Eight Ball.

Map of Bones. Copyright © by James Rollins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 377 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(204)

4 Star

(110)

3 Star

(41)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 377 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2005

    A thriller of Mediterranean history, religion, and modern technology...at breakneck speed!

    Excellent book! Rollins comes at you with a dizzying pace and almost overwhelming information. After 20 pages you adjust to his speed and data ... and you enjoy the ride! This is a modern thriller with obvious comparisons to The DaVinci Code. Three American intelligence operatives and two Italians (priest and niece) form an unlikely and tight partnership to thwart an ancient religious order from gaining an ultimate prize. Perhaps this is a perceptive view of our 21st century, a harmonious blend of science and spirituality, history and technology, religion and government agents across borders. A high point is Rollins' use of a loyal team of five very diverse people devoted to one another and their mission. This is a fine read!

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    James Rollins: Map of Bones

    James Rollins is one of my new favorite thriller authors, among the ranks of Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child. His plots are thrilling and incredibly unique leaving you in suspense and utterly surprised by the twists and turns. The first of his "Sigma Force" series, Map of Bones, is by far one of his best works yet and definitely one of my favorites from this series. Grayson Pierce is an interesting James Bond-esq lead character with whom you instantly fall in love and wish you were more like. His historical references as well as theological and mythological foundation are incredibly intriguing, making outside research on the topics fun and useful. Map of Bones is easily comparable to The Davinci Code, as the setting and religious elements are very similar. However, Rollins' writing style as well as the more thrilling theme makes it, in my opinion, a superior novel. Possibly one of my top ten favorite thrillers, Map of Bones is a must read for any action lover or someone looking for a new interesting author.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2005

    Good, Not Great

    James Rollins has always been one of my favorite action/thriller writers, but he seems to have drifted in his last two books, gravitating toward the Matt Reilly-type thriller with lots of shootouts and narrow escapes, and less of the creative bent that characterized such efforts as Amazonia and Subterranean. The plot of 'Map of Bones' has a touch of 'Da-Vinci Code', with Biblical relics pivotal to the plot. Overall, it's a fun, fast-paced read, but wait for the paperback or get it from the library.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2005

    I don't get it

    Okay - I don't get the excitement over this book. The plot is laborious and totally unbelievable (The protagonists somehow accomplish more in one day than any human could hope to do in 2 months). The writing concerning the romantic storyline with Rachel and Gray is nauseating. And is it just me or does anyone else wonder how St. Thomas - a contemporary of Jesus - baptized the three magi? Anyway - I've read worse but I cannot recommend this book.

    8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thrilling Adventure from Beginning to End

    Within the first couple chapters I was hooked! Map of Bones is an archeological thriller that beautifully weaves real life history, mysteries, religious and historical artifacts and secret societies into a thrilling adventure. The characters are developed in a way that you either love them or despise them. Their victories become yours and you can't help but feel a little thrill when the bad guys have difficulty. As a warning, this book is nearly impossible to put down. Rollins has truly mastered the art of keeping the reader engaged. It's one of those "just one more chapter and then I'm going to bed" books that keep you up late into the night.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2010

    Another DaVinci Code Wanna-Be

    Sorry folks, but I can't recommend this book. It's another DaVinci Code wanna-be. Authors, please pick another theme. The "mysteries hidden by the Catholic church" theme is really getting old. Oh, and also - I really hate two-word paragraphs, but apparently this author loves them.

    A lot.

    5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read!

    Map of Bones was a thrilling novel by James Rollins. If anyone enjoyed reading The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, they will enjoy this book. It is arguably better than the bestselling DaVinci Code. Definitely a must read!!!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Trail to Adventure

    This is the first book I have read by James Rollins. I am sorry I haven't run across his books sooner. The book is full of nonstop action. I loved the tie ins with historical facts and his conjectures on the possible ways these facts might work together to further the plot of the novel. The characters are pretty standard fare, but the action is what we came for and Mr. Rollins does not disappoint.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Ok not great

    Good book though at times kind of hard to follow.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2012

    Exceptional Read!

    Very, VERY well written! This is the first, (and only, so far), book I've read by this author and I couldn't put it down! Full of adventure, suspense and thrills, not to mention all the details relative to a wealth of historical details woven in to make this book a fantastic thriller!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2012

    Very Good Story

    I Love the Sigma Force Series. I look forward to the next book in the series.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Always Exciting

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Let down again by sigma force

    After being let down by sandstorm I decided to give rollins another shot. It started out strong and I was excited that he got rid of all the horrible characters from the first. These new guys had some promise. BUT half way through the book I couldnt tell what the point of the journey was. Also sigma force is supposed to be the best of the best and they kept getting their butts whooped. By the end of it I kept thinking, "get it over with" and was checking the number of pages left. Low and behold at the end they got to the place they wanted to finally, stopped the chain and then just left on their merry way after 400 pages of riddles and clues.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2010

    Needed: editor (who should have rejected it in the first place)

    Couldn't anyone tell Rollins that "Magi" is the plural of "Magus"? He uses it interchangeably as singular and plural throughout the book. This is one of those books where the villain is always a step ahead of the good guys not because that makes any sense but because the writer hasn't squeezed out enough words to make the story a novel yet. The characters come from the U.S. Sigma Force (good guys), the Catholic Church (good guys), a bunch of neomonarchist conspirators (bad guys) and your standard ambiguous gorgeous Asian Dragon Lady who unexpectedly (?) saves the hero when necessary. The plot involves nonsense physics and a popular imaginary substance called monoatomic gold (or "m-state" substances in general -- this is all hokum). There's a wise old priest on hand to give the occasional Bible lesson, except check your Bible, as sometimes he seems to be making it up as he goes along (check the references to manna in Exodus). This is a terrible book on many levels, inferior to Lester Dent's most routine Doc Savage, or Warren Murphy's worst Destroyer.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2010

    great read!

    This is one of those books you just can not put down. Good and believable plot. Great characters with a fantastic ending.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    Review

    I rate this highly if you like action and details.I love these guys .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    great

    One of my favorite books ever.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Still going strong

    I bought the Sigma Force Series book for my husband who really doesn't like to read. I started him on the first one, Sandstorm and he loved it so I got him the Map of Bones as the second in the series. He loved it and he said that the action in the book kept him reading. He can't wait to start the next one in the series, Black Order. so if you have a guy in your house and they need something to read my husband says you can't go wrong with anything by James Rollins.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2014

    Good Book

    Enjoyed reading. Wished it didn't have as much romance to it. Wanted to read only the action parts, and the romance just distracted from the flow. If I wanted romance, guess what, I would have bought a romance novel. Hope the future books are without.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 377 Customer Reviews

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