Map of Bones (Sigma Force Series)

Map of Bones (Sigma Force Series)

by James Rollins

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During a crowded service at a cathedral in Germany, armed intruders in monks' robes unleash a nightmare of blood and destruction. But the killers have not come for gold; they seek a more valuable prize: the bones of the Magi who once paid homage to a newborn savior . . . a treasure that could reshape the world.

With the Vatican in turmoil, SIGMA Force leaps into action. An elite team of scientific and Special Forces operatives under the command of Grayson Pierce and accompanied by Lieutenant Rachel Verona of Rome's carabinieri, they are pursuing a deadly mystery that weaves through sites of the Seven Wonders of the World and ends at the doorstep of an ancient, mystical, and terrifying secret order. For there are those with dark plans for the stolen sacred remains that will alter the future of humankind . . . when science and religion unite to unleash a horror not seen since the beginning of time.

The bones lead to ancient mysteries and present-day terror . . . To follow them means death.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062017857
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Series: Sigma Force Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 51,464
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

James Rollins is the 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 one of the "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. He lives in the Sierra Nevada mountains.


Sacramento, California

Date of Birth:

August 20, 1961

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois

Read an Excerpt

Map of Bones

Chapter One

Behind the Eight Ball

JULY 24, 4:34 A.M.

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.

Table of Contents

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Map of Bones 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 412 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
TaylaurErin More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
SiouxieBoshoff More than 1 year ago
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.
JeffNewman More than 1 year ago
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.
karlpov More than 1 year ago
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.
Ronrose More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book though at times kind of hard to follow.
gfry More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous 11 months ago
Too far ferched
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bradsucks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I quit reading it about a quarter of the way in. Something about it was just not doing it for me.
SharronA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's a bit too much "formula" in this book: the plot moves from one inescapable situation to another, with the good guys always escaping. Not much character development, not much of the bad guys' motivation presented, but lots of suspense and fast action. I must admit that the formula worked on me, as I was eager to keep reading the 521 pages to see "what next?"
shannonkearns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a nice quick read. good for my airplane ride. nice action, a decent backstory, although i would have liked a little more depth on the conspiracy of it all. but overall a fun book.
harpua on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm really enjoying James Rollins. This is only my second Rollins novel and the second in the Sigma Force series. This is a typical thriller with secret organizations, the Catholic church and some Biblical supernatural action that creates an entertaining romp. I've got the rest of the Sigma Force novels waiting for me and quite a few stand alone as well. I think one of the better authors of this nature. Recommend him highly.
bluejulie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't have read this one if I wasn't supposed to translate it.Apparently it is widely compared to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. This book is perfect for a summer read if you're looking for something with an intense plot and not much else.I was annoyed with the author's attempt to make the book more authentic by using sentences in foreign languages (German, Italian, French, Portuguese). If you do that, at least do it right. Apart from German which I don't speak, there were huge mistakes in the other languages, the sentences were direct translations form English etc.As for the English parts, the language is sometimes so stilted and awkward it's nearly impossible to translate.The flow of the novel is bearable when it comes to the action parts, all the rest sounds unnatural and awkward. The dialogs are huge info dumps and are annoying to read because you constantly try to pretend they sound like real life dialogs. They don't.And if you want a realistic story, this one is not for you. The implausible premise is hard to swallow if you don't have a very vivid imagination.
Tara714 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Iloved this book. James Rollins melds the perfect amount of action, adventuren history and mystery. The characters are well written and develope nicely. You can compare this book to the da vinci code but it is much better. This book is about the magi, the vatican, alexander the great and the knights templar with a story so deep in history and allure that you'll want to find out more about them.
Ronrose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
goth_marionette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first book from Rollins and I picked it up at a used book store as a lark and was pleasantly surprised. I expected a decent read and fell in love with this book. The main characters were well developed and the plot was riveting. I enjoyed the historical aspect and found it fascinating. This is an author I would strongly recommend.
cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Map of Bones by James Rollins left me struggling a little. It's supposed to be a thriller, but I thought it fell rather flat. A church is attacked by a group of terrorists who steal ancient bone relics and kills the entire congregation ... all but one, and the lone survivor manages to give his eye-witness account of the bizarre fashion in which most had died ... until he too dies.The Vatican gets help from the Roman police and an American organization that provides secret operatives to find the terrorists and retrieve the relics. In the middle of everything is the puzzle as to what was really stolen and why. The thieves are vicious, clever and seemingly one step ahead all the time.This fell into the realm of Raiders of the Lost Ark meets the Da Vinci Code but with boring direction. Not a great read.
hawkinsfamily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Map of Bones by James Rollins is a SIGMA. It is a good adventure / mystery. Rollins tells a good story and it makes for a fun read.
jewels1864 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book more than the first one of Rollins's Sigma Force Series. It seemed to be somewhat less science intensive and more like historical fiction. There was a new host of characters, with the only main one returning being Painter Crowe. Like 'Sandstorm' however, bits of the plot were a bit unbelievable and the alliance between Pierce and Seichan seemed unlikely. But it is just a story. The story does grab you right from the beginning with the murder carried out in the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, and the method of the murder was somewhat ingenious, if you could overlook some of the technicalities of the scientific principles behind it. The way the gold powder was traced through different countries, civilizations, and time periods was clever as well. Rollins does a good job of teaching the reader something new in that sense, and opens ones mind to almost incredible possibilities. Post 9-11 it makes one wonder about what unknown weapons or chemicals may be out there... Like many other books I've been reading lately, I was disappointed in the ending. When Pierce almost decides against giving his father the gold powder to help 'cure' his alzheimers, I didn't fully grasp his motivation. I don't know why anyone would allow a loved one to go through that when there was a possible 'cure'. All in all, I enjoyed the book, but I still prefer the style and plot of Dan Brown's 'Angels and Demons' more, although this makes a good addition to the lists of fans of his style.
MSWallack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In contrast to Sandstorm, the first book in the Sigma Force series, Map of Bones was a terrific book. I can best describe it as The Da Vinci Code on steroids. The action was often reminiscent of a Clive Cussler novel with some of the historical "fun" from Dan Brown's books (or even some of Jack Du Brul's books). My only criticism is that the description of the room in which the climactic scene occurs was very difficult to picture. I really enjoyed Map of Bones and found myself absolutely flying through it. A terrific "light" read!
kaelirenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good beach book, a la Da Vinci Code. I'd say it's a combination of Robert Ludlum and Dan Brown, but the author doesn't put THAT much thought into his work. Not great, but it doesn't purport to be.