The Atlantis Gene (The Origin Mystery #1) by A.G. Riddle

70,000 years ago, the human race almost went extinct.
We survived, but no one knows how.
Until now.
The countdown to the next stage of human evolution is about to begin, and humanity may not survive this time.

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The Immari are good at keeping secrets. For 2,000 years, they have hidden the truth about human evolution. And they’ve searched for an ancient enemy — a threat that could wipe out the human race. Now the search is over.

Off the coast of Antarctica, a research vessel has discovered a mysterious structure buried deep in an iceberg. It’s been there for thousands of years, and it isn’t man made. The Immari think they know what it is, but they aren’t taking any chances. The time has come to execute their master plan: humanity must evolve or perish. In a lab in Indonesia, a brilliant geneticist may have just discovered the key to their plan.

Four years ago, Dr. Kate Warner left California for Jakarta, Indonesia to escape her past. She hasn’t recovered from what happened to her, but she has made an incredible discovery: a cure for autism. Or so she thinks. What she’s found is actually far more dangerous. Her research could rewrite human history and unleash the next stage of human evolution. In the hands of the Immari, it would mean the end of humanity as we know it.

One man has seen pieces of the Immari conspiracy: Agent David Vale. But he’s out of time to stop it. His informant is dead. His organization has been infiltrated. His enemy is hunting him. But when he receives a cryptic code from an anonymous source, he risks everything to save the only person that can solve it: Dr. Kate Warner.

Now Kate and David must race to unravel a global conspiracy and learn the truth about the Atlantis Gene… and human origins. Their journey takes them to the far corners of the globe and into the secrets of their pasts. The Immari are close on their heels and will stop at nothing to find the Atlantis Gene and force the next stage of human evolution — even if it means killing 99.9% of the world’s population. David and Kate can stop them… if they can trust each other. And stay alive.

I admit I was a little hesitant when I originally added this book to my TBR list before downloading it from Amazon. Autism is a touchy subject and talk of trying to find some sort of “cure” even more so. It is a topic I try to steer clear of simply because I do not want to cause strife to my readers.

Thankfully, the autism angle is only one small plot point among dozens that make up The Atlantis Gene. From aliens to Nazis, from time travel to 9/11 conspiracy theories – I’m fairly sure this book has them all.

For the first part of the book, Riddle has a pretty good story. The pacing is decent and the action scenes are plenty. The characters are interesting enough and while the incredibly short and copious chapters can be irritating, it’s not the first time I’ve encountered such writing and can be easily forgiven.

It is only with the last quarter of the book does the story go completely off the rails. I will freely admit that one of the only reasons I finished this book was to see what kind of a train wreck would result. And dear reader, I was not disappointed. By the end, the story line goes sideways so quickly it’s a wonder I don’t have whiplash.

I’m not going to say that The Atlantis Gene is a bad book. Based on entertainment value alone I found it enjoyable. However, readers going in expecting something serious should take care. Though the book bills itself as an action thriller, it is more along the lines of a B-movie or perhaps something SyFy might come out with.

There are two more books in the series and I will likely add them to my TBR list. If nothing else, it will be entertaining.

Infiltrator (Agent G #1) by C.T. Phipps

The International Refugee Society has twenty-six cybernetically enhanced “Letters”, and for the right price they will eliminate any one. These “Letters” have given up their families and their memories, exchanging them for ten years of service and a life of luxury when the time is done.

Agent G is one of these “Letters”. He’s been sent on a near impossible mission to infiltrate the Carnevale – the Society’s most dangerous competitor. It is while on this mission that clues from his hidden past begin to emerge. In the midst of all the violence and deceit, G will need to keep his wits about him and trust only a few.

After all, if an organization like the International Refugee Society will kill for the right price, how far would they go to keep the truth hidden?

One of the reviewers on Goodreads described Agent G as “If the agencies behind Johnny Mnemonic and Jason Bourne merged their R&D departments” and it is a description I completely agree with.

G is a highly trained agent, enhanced with what is referred to as Black Technology. Along with wiping his memories, his emotions are kept under strict control via the chip that is embedded in his brain. His body has also been subjected to several modifications, turning him in to the so called perfect weapon.

There is a lot of violence in Infiltrator – and I mean a LOT. Phipps does not skimp when it comes to that particular detail. People are killed left and right and not all of them are bad guys. Concepts like “collateral damage” are not even considered in G’s world of espionage. When an elderly couple comes across the carnage after G and one of the members of Carnavale have been ambushed, they are shot almost point blank before they can leave and possibly report what they saw. Deaths like this are fairly common throughout the book, underlining the fact that these are not nice people.

Overall, the plot line driving Infiltrator isn’t that original. Any one who is familiar with the manga and movies Ghost in the Shell or Battle Angel Alita have seen similar storylines – augmented individuals with forgotten pasts trying to remember the people they were, for better or for worse. Even the big reveal at the end, which has enough hints dropped through the story to make it fairly easy to guess, isn’t that original. Other books and movies have done the same thing and done it better.

At times I also found the dialogue a bit awkward and clunky. Even when the dialogue was between two characters it sometimes became difficult to tell who was speaking and there were a few times I had to go back to reread a passage to make sure I was following it properly.

The bottom line is Infiltrator is an okay book. Very violent and not very innovative, it gives us a story that has been done before but unfortunately doesn’t present it in a new way. While it might appeal to some, I wasn’t terribly impressed and I won’t be seeking out the rest of the series.

Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson

Deep in the heart of the Siberian wilderness lies an underground Russian research station. It is a place so secret that officially it doesn’t exist, and once there the scientists recruited are forbidden to leave and must remain for the rest of their natural lives.

Yet there is one scientist who is desperate to share his secret with the outside world. So desperate he sends out a set of secret coded messages in the hopes that they will eventually get in to the right hands. And that these hands will belong to the one man who can actually make it there and back alive.

Kolymsky Heights feels very much like your standard Cold War era thriller, however it takes place closer to the mid to late 1990’s. In it, an aging Oxford professor receives a strange message from an unknown sender. The message is encoded and only after decoding it does the professor realize who sent it and what he wants. In an eventual somewhat convoluted series of events, the message makes its way to Johnny Porter – our eventual hero.

If, dear reader, you are the kind of person who watches any spy thriller or James Bond movie and wonders ‘Well, how did he get that vehicle?’ or some such, then this is certainly the book for you. Kolmysky Heights goes in to GREAT detail – quite literally over half of the book – following Porter as he makes his way from the United States to Japan an eventually in to Russia. There is so much detail given, that quite honestly I found it boring and tedious.

The beginning of the book, with its set up and introduction of characters was interesting; and the last 100 or so pages of the book with Porter trying to make his escape was quite thrilling. It was the entire middle section, around 250 pages I believe, that I could easily have done without. This is a decent sized book at almost 500 pages, and to me it could have been handled just as well in half the number.

I know there are readers who enjoy this kind of ‘slow burn’ type of book. While I generally enjoy them too, at times I found Kolmysky Heights to be so slow burning as to be at a near stand still.

Readers who enjoy these kinds of stories will likely enjoy this one. I wish I could say I did.