Pros: Rollicking good time
Rating: 4 out of 5
Lorna is a veterinarian and researcher in Louisiana, and she’s called up to assist in the investigation of an unusual exotic animal smuggling case. All of the animals display throwback characteristics. The parrot has no feathers. The large, white feline cub is beginning to grow in saber teeth… and its mama is missing from the beached boat. Jack needs Lorna’s help in tracking the large, unusually intelligent, extremely dangerous cat before it starts killing. And Lorna needs to figure out what makes these animals so unusual, and why someone has made them so.
James Rollins’s Altar of Eden has a fascinating setup, but then I’m a sucker for bio-thrillers, particularly ones involving genetic experimentation, animals, the works. I also enjoyed Jack and Lorna as characters, including their complicated past and their burgeoning feelings for one another. The search for the big cat provides immediate danger and tension; Lorna cares about trying to capture rather than kill it, but not to a ridiculous or unsafe extent, which is nice.
The villains work out well. One of them provides the unredeemingly nasty bad guy for us to hate, but he’s also smart and has some depth to him, which is nice. The other villains provide a more nuanced and slightly ambiguous enemy, repulsive in some ways but potentially redeemable in others, which makes them interesting. Lorna and Jack find themselves in different dangerous situations as the plot progresses; neither of them is passive in the plot, and there are plenty of genetic and biological plot twists to keep things exciting and interesting.
If you enjoy bio-thrillers and genetic experimentation novels, James Rollins’s Altar of Eden is a good choice. It’s fun, interesting, tense, and engaging.