Shitstorm. That’s what I wanted to write for this post’s title. My innate prudishness got in the way however. James Rollins is one of those authors who infuriates better, typically unpublished writers. He’s a writer who comes up with a wild plot idea, proceeds to write it quickly and with little finesse, publishes it and watches it become a bestseller. I feel qualified to pass this judgment because 1) I can read and 2) I’ve somehow read more than one of his books.
Sigh. Blame it one the library booksale. I wanted a quick, mindless, fun read and plucked this gem off my shelf. It wasn’t exactly quick at 464 pages, and I didn’t find it particularly fun, but it was fairly mindless. Sandstorm has a ludicrous plot, and that’s saying something coming from me, an admitted reader of conspiracy theories and alternative histories. Anyway. Sandstorm introduces Painter Crowe, a combination of brains and brawn who goes on with his Sigma group to star in Rollins’ next several books. The plot such as it is: During a horrible storm in London, ball lightning is observed to interact weirdly with an item in the Kensington Gallery. Minutes later the gallery explodes, and almost everything in it is completely destroyed. Washington DC detects the residue of antimatter in the debris and dispatches Crowe and his new partner (his former partner betrayed him spectacularly) to London to investigate. Meanwhile, in Londa, the gallery’s curator, Safia Al-Maaz and her patroness and childhood friend Lady Kensington have discovered something related to the lost city of Ubar in the debris…something related to the antimatter readings as well. Crowe, Al Maaz, Lady Kensington meet up with the annoying archaeologist Omaha Dunn and his paleontologist brother in Saudi Arabia, and it quickly becomes clear that they aren’t the only ones seeking the lost city of Ubar. Just what lives out there under the desert sands? And who are the mysterious women who appear to be stalking the group’s every move?
I know what Rollins intended to do. He intended to tie the legend of the Queen of Sheba and parthenogenisis to Biblical tales. But it didn’t work. I was hopelessly confused by the antimatter part of the story and exactly how the ancients manipulated it. Or how it got there. And once they got to Ubar? I was completely unable to visualize the lost city. Every character was one dimensional. Poor Lady Kensington was a druggie with daddy issues. Safia’s guilt complex verged on a martyr complex. Omaha Dunn was clearly supposed to be an Indiana Jones-type figure but instead made me wonder how he managed to survive. Poor Painter Crowe was left to wander off like David Banner at the end of the book, alone again. I practically heard the music.
Definitely not worth the time, and I’m glad I paid on 25 cents for the book.