Mysteries in a Sandstorm

by Sebastian Lim

Title: Sandstorm
Author: James Rollins
Publisher: Harper
ISBN: 9780062017581
Year Published: 2011

An inexplicable explosion rocks the antiquities collection of a London museum, setting off alarms in clandestine organisations around the world. To search for answers to the explosion is leading Lady Kara Kensington and her friend Safia
al-Maaz, the gallery’s brilliant curator, and their guide, the international adventurer Omaha Dunn. They travel to a city named Ubar in Arabia and then into a world they never dreamed existed – a lost city buried beneath the Arabian desert.

But there are others being drawn there as well, some with dark and sinister agendas. And the many perils of a death-defying trek deep into the savage heart of the Arabian Peninsula pale before the nightmare waiting to be unearthed at journey’s end – an ageless and awesome power that could either create a utopia or destroy everything humankind has built over the millennia. That, in a nutshell, is the storyline of this thriller.

There are lots of suspenseful moments and cliffhangers along the way as Painter Crowe and his Sigma Force colleague, Dr Coral Novak join forces with Kara and Safia together with Safia’s ex, Omaha, to unravel the mystery of the secret city of Ubar using the first key found in an iron heart embedded in the ancient sculpture that was discovered by Kara’ father, Reginald Kensington.

Unfortunately, he was killed in a sinkhole accident during a hunting expedition but his body had never been found. This leads them to the next destination which is the tomb of Job where they find yet another key to the next location. All these while, the group is being tracked by Painter’s former colleague, Cassandra Sanchez, who has turned rogue and is working for a syndicate known as the Guild.

Sandstorm has some of Rollins’ most interesting and layered characters, and he writes interesting and believable women characters particularly well. There is also a romance that had zero chemistry thrown in but it was forced in a way between the two persons concerned.

The book is the first of eight in the bestselling Sigma Force stories, and it’s easy to see why there are so many fans. The unexpected twists make this a page-turner as we root for the likeable main characters to overcome the obstacles of storms, ancient curses, and government entities. Even the bad guys are interesting in their own ways and make worthy adversaries for the heroes.

Sandstorm also incorporates lots of real science in the action-packed storyline that it is difficult to differentiate realities from fiction. Rollins includes a fact disclosure at the end of the book for the curious. No plot spoiler here, though. One intriguing subplot involves females from an ancient sister society who have the ability to
disappear at will. An amazing book that will keep you glued till the last page.

Sebastian Lim is an experienced journalist and editor who now runs his own book review blog — The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of The Weekly-Echo