book-review-the-kill-switch-by-james-rollins--L-6e9jwMReviewed by Marcus Hammond

James Rollins and Grant Blackwood bring their different talents together in The Kill Switch to build a suspenseful, fast paced, and scientifically intriguing novel. Both authors have different backgrounds and that diversity helps make each character, whether major or minor, relatable and the plot highly enjoyable.

The story’s central characters are Tucker Wayne, a former Army Ranger, and his military dog, Kane. After losing one of his team of military training dogs in a firefight, Tucker opts to use his and Kane’s training for private security. As the book opens, the duo is tracking would-be assassins for a wealthy Russian businessman. Tucker and Kane are, however, propositioned by a secret, Black Ops division of the American government known as Sigma to escort a Russian scientist to the United States. Reluctantly, Tucker agrees, thus beginning a treacherous and action-packed adventure that spans Russia, South Africa, and the United States.

The pivotal aspect of the novel is that the scientist Tucker is escorting has uncovered the existence of a primordial plant that could act as both a genetic enhancer to all plant-life as well as a weapon of bio-terrorism. Due to his research, a rogue Russian general who desires to use the plant for its more sinister applications begins hunting Tucker and his charges.

Rollins and Blackwood do an amazing job of balancing each aspect of this story. While the concept of a plant that holds the genetic code of the very first plant-life on the planet and its uses is incredibly complex, the authors explain it in simple terms. This is not to say that they dumb it down, however. Tucker usually prompts the explanations revolving around the uses and dangers of the plant, so Bukolov describes the scientific aspects in terms a layman will grasp.

Another aspect that is very well done is the relationship between Tucker and Kane. For many that don’t know about the realities of military dogs and their trainers the interactions between Tucker and Kane may seem unrealistic. The authors, however, represent the relationship in an intimate and realistic way. At specific points, the authors actually pull the reader into Kane’s mind as he responds to Tucker’s commands. This helps provide perspective and shows that Kane’s relationship to Tucker is one forged in intense training, trust, and animal instinct.

The detailed and emotional relationship constructed around Tucker and Kane alongside the intense action that spans continents makes this a quick, yet unforgettable ride. The relationship that Rollins and Blackwood forge between Tucker and Kane open up the possibilities for more adventures in the future that should be just as exciting and well-written.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.