If he weren't such a good action writer, Rollins might make a dynamite climatologist. Each of his thrillers has featured as a central character an extreme environment, most recently the Arctic ice (Ice Hunt, 2003) and now the hot sands of Saudi Arabia. But while Rollins writes settings and scenes that sizzle, what's caught in the heat are usually familiar characters grappling with far-fetched threats, and so it is here. That one male lead is a danger-courting archeologist named Omaha Dunn seems less parodic than tired, and the novel's premise of a hoard of antimatter hidden in the legendary city of Ubar is almost as ridiculous as the idea that this cache has been guarded for millennia by an order of women who propagate without men, via parthenogenesis. Rollins writes less like Michael Crichton than Stan Lee. Most of his readers won't care, though, because there's just enough scientific gloss on the nonsense to make it palatable, and anyway, what they want, and what he delivers, is action, as Omaha and an American military agent, Painter, join forces with two Mideastern women, one a scientist, the other a billionaire, to locate the steadily destabilizing antimatter before it's snatched by a villainous cabal, or worse, blows up the planet. And that's why they'll buy this book in numbers big enough to have it flirt with national bestseller lists. Agent, Russell Galen. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-A devastating explosion destroys an entire antiquities section of the British Museum and sets off a search for the source of the antimatter used. Scientist Safia al-Maaz and her closest friend and museum benefactor, Lady Kara Kensington, are joined in the search by Omaha Dunn, another scientist and adventurer, and Painter Crowe and his covert U.S. government team. Together they take on the desert of Arabia and relocate the legendary city of Ubar. As they search for the source of the antimatter, an evil cabal makes plans to use it for nefarious purposes. In the meantime, a tremendous sandstorm releases winds and driven sand with more force than a hurricane, while a rainstorm pushes in toward the site of Ubar and the search teams. The desert setting and the details of its environmental challenges conjure up clear pictures of the harshness of the area. The characters tend to be a bit stereotypical at first, but fit into the plot and support the action. And they evolve. Omaha Dunn, seemingly patterned on Indiana Jones, appears almost as a clone of the typical action/adventure character but becomes more individualized. Rollins mixes science, history, facts, and fiction into a thrilling swirl of an adventure story with a nonstop pace.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.