The Devil's in the Details
Why do so many readers love James Rollins’ books?
This one, The Demon Crown, begins on an isolated Hawaiian Island. Two of the heroes, Gray and Seichan, are enjoying the aquamarine water, the warm sun, the sandy beach, and each other. They’ve been fleeing from civilization for months, but when three drone planes filled with killer wasps attack the beach, the world abruptly finds them, and now there’s nowhere to hide.
The deadly prehistoric wasp species hibernated in amber for millions of years. The stinging beasts, a demonic secret that James Smithson took to his grave, were discovered at the end of WWII by a vengeful Japanese businessman. Decades later, the corporate head has finally found a way to unleash the hoard. Now it’s awake, hungry, and ready to repopulate the earth.
With all their experience outrunning trouble, Gray and Seichan quickly realize the dangers posed by the angry, buzzing swarm. Before they can escape into the blue Hawaiian water, Seichan is stung, painfully, letting us experience first hand the agonizing consequences of failure. The Sigma Force director, Painter Crow, and other key team members, Kat, Monk, and Kowolski, join the mission to stop the extraordinary threat before Hawaii is destroyed and the biological weapon is unleashed on the rest of the world.
On the surface, this plot might seem commonplace for the thriller genre, but where Rollins shines is in the details of execution. Exciting action is plentiful, but not gratuitous. Plot twists and turns are craftily concealed. The scientific details are superb, even pulling the reader into what it’s like to be various forms of wasps: drones, soldiers, and queens. The tea drunk by the origami wielding Japanese businessman isn’t just green tea. No, it’s green tea with brown rice. The locations are carefully chosen and drawn with a discerning eye. My favorite scenes take place in the Wieliczka salt mines, in Poland, which Rollins indicates in his ‘Fact or Fiction’ denouement are a UNESCO World Heritage site. From the artful descriptions of the ornate chapel carved from salt, to the varied figurines created over the centuries by miners lucky to ever see the light of day, the place is fascinating. Lastly, the characters are so richly-drawn that every time I read a new Sigma Force novel, I feel like I’m hanging out with old friends, who, like me, grow over time.
“The devil’s in the details,” my mamma always said. As usual, she was right. The Demon Crown is so realistic that readers who’re allergic to wasp stings will want to keep their Epipens handy so they don’t go into anaphylactic shock.
Anyone can publish a book this days, and many do. However, novel writing is an enormous undertaking, fraught with pitfalls. It’s tough to do well. Which explains why readers choose some authors to spend time with over and over again. Quality counts. With the level of mastery Rollins brings to all the little things, it’s clear to see why he’s a #1 NYT Bestselling author.
International award-winning thriller author.