"Olsson lines up a sympathetic and well-developed cast of characters, inserts them into some interesting places, and allows very few dull moments, especially once the action really gets rolling. An end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thriller featuring two unlikely, but very likeable protagonists."Kirkus Reviews
"Olsson's debut, a world-in-peril thriller, gets high marks for developing an original concept and building suspense."Publishers Weekly
"Distinctly cinematic.... A colorful blockbuster thriller."The Independent (UK)
"Secrets are unveiled with a masterful sense of pace.... Olsson has the page-turning power of Michael Crichton."The Sun (UK)
Olsson’s debut, a world-in-peril thriller, gets high marks for developing an original concept and building suspense, but he needs to have a keener instinct for when readers have had enough of a good thing. A group of elite scientists and mathematicians have been holed up in a remote European castle for more than 50 years. Led by a British military strategist known only as Connors, they have been trying to crack a complex code discovered in human DNA that appears to prophesy disaster for Earth—unrelenting plague, followed by worldwide conflagration. The time is getting close, and the scientists, stymied for decades in their attempt to redirect the code, have resorted to kidnapping other experts, including Swedish cryptologist William Sandberg, in a last-ditch try to save humanity. The second half of the story rambles along without direction, with countless foot chases through the castle, too many sectional cliffhangers, and confusing scientific detail. Agent: Jonas Axelsson, Partners in Stories (Sweden). (Nov.)
Ex-army cryptologist William Sandberg is abducted from his room in a Stockholm hospital by a shadowy organization that orders him to code a reply to a mysterious message. William isn't quite a guest at the Alpine castle, nor is he exactly a prisoner. The men in charge, though, will do whatever is necessary to get his help. Meanwhile, William's estranged journalist wife, Christina, is determined to track him down despite the risks, while Janine, a young scientist who uncovered some dangerous information, is kidnapped by the same group holding William. Ever resourceful, Janine and William attempt to escape their captors several times, but as they uncover more of the truth, they're forced to stay and discover the meaning of what's hidden in our DNA or witness the greatest human catastrophe yet. VERDICT Swedish screenwriter Olsson's debut novel is a thrilling page-turner reminiscent of the of the works of Michael Crichton or David Baldacci. Fans of suspense and adventure fiction will enjoy traveling along with the protagonists across continental Europe in search of answers. Each revelation is unexpected and an intriguing twist that keeps readers hanging on.—Michelle Martinez, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX
Swedish scriptwriter Olsson's first novel amps up the action via a doomsday scenario set in Europe.William Sandberg, a retired Swedish cryptologist, tries to kill himself but is thwarted by his vigilant former wife, prominent newspaper executive Christina. Christina worries that her ex-husband is planning another go at it, but before he can try, he's abducted from the hospital, installed on a private plane and flown to an unknown destination. When he awakens, he finds himself in a chateau with an eclectic group including Janine Haynes, a brilliant doctoral candidate studying ancient codes, Connors, an enigmatic British military man, and a contingent of unsmiling guards. Sandberg is given a mysterious code to break, but Connors and his other captors refuse to provide all the details he needs. After a series of alarming revelations and much personal upheaval, William and Janine, who was also abducted, discover the unsettling, mind-boggling truth about what their real task is and come to some staggering conclusions. Although time is running out for the human race, they rush to find a solution despite ever dwindling options and the prospect of certain disaster. On the minus side, Olsson crams the book full of annoying one-sentence paragraphs, adds the popular action-novel device of ending each chapter on a cliffhanger, and obfuscates the storyline with a confusing explanation of why the kidnappers chose their particular course of action. On the plus side, Olsson lines up a sympathetic and well-developed cast of characters, inserts them into some interesting places, and allows very few dull moments, especially once the action really gets rolling. An end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thriller featuring two unlikely, but very likable, protagonists.