Altar of Eden by James Rollins

James Rollins returns with another thriller in Altar of Eden featuring Dr. Laura Polk, a veterinarian with ACRES (Audubon Center for the Research of Endangered Species) in Louisiana. Following a storm, she races to ACRES to check that the backup generator was working to keep her embryos of endangered species frozen. When she arrives, so does a Border Patrol helicopter which takes her out into the New Orleans delta area to the scene of a beached trawler on a small island. There she is met by a group of heavily armed men. When the leader begins speaking to her she recognizes the Cajun voice of her dead high school boyfriend’s older brother Jack who had requested that she be summoned. The beached trawler contains some very interested caged animals – a parrot with no feathers who can recite pi for over 100 digits; conjoined capuchin monkeys, and a strange cat-like cub. What is more important is that a very large animal seems to be missing and there is a lot of blood on the boat and no human bodies. As the elite Border Patrol team and Laura start their tracking mission, it becomes apparent that these are genetically modified animals – throwbacks to an earlier time. Their tracking leads to Laura’s capture and finding a Caribbean island where the research is based. The research extends to humans and humanoid beings they have created. They are trying to genetically create a biologically linked master fighting group of humanoids and animals. Funding comes from such mysterious sources as the US DARPA and other even more secret agencies. The pace is fast, the language sometimes a bit strong, the violence is rampant, but the plot will keep you riveted. The four page epilogue will give you cold chills. I thought Amazonia was amazing, but Rollins has outdone himself with Altar of Eden.

–Anniesse

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