Squawk Radio

Saturday, July 01, 2006



I would be the first to admit that I don't read boy books. I've given Elmore Leonard a shot, and I'm hugely impressed by his writing, but unfortunately I'm bored by jail-breaks, no matter how fascinating the criminals' voices are. I tried Clive Cussler, whom my little brother adores. I tried Steven King (and I know he doesn't really qualify as a boy book); anyway, I was so terrified by his use of adjectives that I put down the book and never picked up another. It wasn't until I was stuck at a booksigning in which (sob!) no readers showed up that I started talking to a very kind bookseller about books she was surprised to be selling to women. Not romance, in other words. Not women's fiction, chick lit, mysteries, or Oprah books. Something that surprised her.

She pulled out Ice Hunt, by James Rollins. I took it home, pretty unconvinced, but willing to give it a try. "He's a vet," she told me. "Not a military background. He's not obsessed by the caliber of machine guns." "Low body count?" I asked. Her face got kind of hesitant. "Well, no...but nobody gets flayed..." her voice trailed off. "Except in that one book." I still took Ice Hunt home because she was promising that James Rollins was writing something different from the rest.

"He's all about science," she told me. "It's fascinating! He takes these remote parts of the world, and advances in science that are real -- you can read them in the back of the books, if you want -- and he turns them into stories that you just can't put down."

No kidding. I still remember reading Ice Hunt. I was so terrified (in a good way) that I kept putting the book down and running around the house and then going back to it. My husband noticed this Chicken Little behavior, but was laughing himself sick, but I was like some sort of trained dog getting two comments: READ! RUN!

Everything that bookseller told me is true. Rollins makes fascinating use of science -- but never in way that a) is boring or b) too arcane or c) over my head. He is simply brilliant at turning perplexing new advances in science into utterly absorbing plots. One of his books opens when everyone who partook of the mass at a cathedral in Germany spontaneously combusts. You can imagine the world complications... Another opened in a museum in England when a guard is killed by a strange blue ball that erupts from an ancient artifact.

Black Order is his newest book. I don't want to tell too much about the plot -- but it's an amazing book. The key here is Nazi experiments and evolutionary science. In fact, a big part of it involves a secret code in Darwin's own bible. It's fascinating -- and the end, for romance lovers, is absolutely, hugely satisfying. I loved it.

The GREAT NEWS...James Rollins himself is going to stop by the site this afternoon -- so if you have any questions, jump in! AND -- I have five Advance Review Copies of this book to give away! So come onto the comments and ask James a question or tell us about a boy book that you like or tell us what you ate last night *g*-- I'll use a random number generator to pick 5 comments out of the mix on Monday.
Eloisa James, 6:51 PM