Robinson’s slam-bang second Chess Team thriller (after Pulse) opens in 1995 in Vietnam’s Annamite Mountains, where Dr. Anthony Weston, a cryptozoologist, is studying a strange tribe of protohumans. When a pack of the creatures attacks Weston, one of them decides he’d make a tasty snack (“he could taste the decaying flesh of some previous meal that clung to its two-inch-long canines”). Fourteen years later, Jack Sigler, head of the elite Chess Team, is searching for the source of a deadly plague known as the Brugada syndrome, which has stricken the new U.S. president. Jack (call sign “King”) and his team members—Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight, Pawn—are soon in Vietnam on the trail of a cure. There they find a vast mountain hideout with a city built of bones.
Robinson, who’s been criticized for writing stories that are too much like video games, has come up with a wildly inventive yarn that reads as well on the page as it would play on a computer screen.
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