“The Seventh Plague” by James Rollins blends scientific intrigue with a small dose of historical mystery. Unlike his other books, this one has more of an emphasis on the science — both physical and biological. However, readers of Rollins’ books always learn from interesting facts within a gripping story, and this novel is no different.
This, as well as the other books, has scenes between Commander Grayson Pierce and his father, who has Alzheimer’s’ disease. Rollins believes he was influenced “by my father’s death during the course of writing this book.”
“No author writes within a vacuum,” he said. “This is reflected in the storyline, which started with the first book and the subsequent decline of his father. My own dad was my biggest promoter and my loudest cheerleader.”
The novel begins with an archeological dig in Egypt going very awry. Archeologist Harold McCabe is found stumbling out of the sands, but dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when his body appears to have been mummified before his death. During the autopsy it becomes apparent that within is a deadly pathogen that threatens to cause a pandemic, with the virus spreading throughout the globe. It is airborne and highly contagious with a mortality rate similar to Ebola, and somehow connected to the plagues listed in the book of Exodus. Turning to McCabe’s daughter, Jen, a connection is further discovered tying the current threat to Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla.
The theory proposed in the book attributes an environmental change that turned the Nile red. The book speaks of the “algae blooms, bacteria growth, even heavy contaminations.” Rollins said. “I wanted to write a story about the book of Exodus that will try to prove the events depicted about Moses were factual. The scientific explanation for the plagues was due to a major climatic period of change within Mother Nature. This is a modern version of the cascade of events where I made the connection that it mimicked the ancient plagues.”
Furthermore, Rollins explained why he included two famous historical figures.
“I am a big Mark Twain fan,” he said. “I like the fact he and Nikola Tesla were friends. Twain hung around his lab and did experiments with him. At the end of his life, Tesla claimed of having a shocking discovery, a new energy source. The possibility became the ‘germ’ for this book. He had research surrounding energy and new electrical sources. He actually invented an alternating current, which is what we pretty much use in every single U.S. household, the electrical infrastructure.”
Through Sigma Force’s investigation, a mysterious group of assassins is found that attempts to erase all evidence through destruction and death. Seichan is pitted against the Russian assassin Valya Mikhailov who can match her skill for skill while Commander Grayson tries to keep the scientists safe. On the other side of the globe Director Painter Crowe struggles to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex.
“I put in the sub-plot of how someone with a massive geo-engineering program could have things go terribly wrong if he succeeded,” Rollins said. “Global warming is happening, but my goal for this book is to show how geo-engineering is ignoring the change to the carbon in the atmosphere. Instead, they are going for the Hail Mary pass that includes wrapping a big blanket around Greenland.”
He told of his next book projects: “Seichen and Vayla butting heads where Seichen represents the non-dark side and Vayla stayed in the shadows. There will be a resolution to their battle. This next Sigma book will bring back as a major character, Maria, the human mother of the gorilla Baako. It will involve a mystery surrounding the end of World War II. This one will be more historical. I am also writing by myself a Tucker and Kane book where Kane will get a girlfriend, a search and rescue dog. There is also talk, coming out in the summer, of a compilation of short stories in an anthology with a new novella added.”
“The Seventh Plague” blends action, adventure, with a lot of science. It has an interesting premise based upon the reality of the plagues imposed by Moses on the Egyptians as well as informing readers about the Twain/Tesla relationship.