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The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle

Having enjoyed The Long Winter series by A.G. Riddle, I went back to his earlier works, starting with his very first book, The Atlantis Gene. What is it about the very idea of “Atlantis” that it still manages to capture our imaginations? And how is that so many creative artists have positively exploited our fascination with a lost city, drawing upon it in a range of ways that are sometimes mind-boggling?

Riddle joins a plethora of other writers who have also used the idea of Atlantis, this time using it to explore the idea of human evolution. The book opens with a young geneticist, Kate Warner, working with autistic children in Indonesia. When her co-workers are killed and two of the children kidnapped, and Kate herself is placed in grave danger, she is very confused. Why is her research, let alone her young, vulnerable subjects, of such interest to a covert group? A covert group who, it seems, not only employs a beloved guardian, but has a wide, global network that stretches back in time to the Nazis and into the future as well.

Concurrent with Kate’s dilemma is that facing counter-terrorism agent, David Vale. A survivor of 9/11 and member of a top-secret anti-espionage group, David is shocked to learn that the people he’s working for are not what they seem. Flung together with Kate, David must uncover not only who’s behind the terrible destruction being wreaked upon his organisation but try and stop them doing the same to the world… before it’s too late.

While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I wanted to. I found it so implausible and a bit silly at times. The “science”, while trying to be grounded, stretched even this reader’s ability to suspend her disbelief. I also found the continuous deadly scrapes that Kate and David found themselves in repetitious and, after a while, predictably dull. Likewise, the people that refused to die, but were conveniently resurrected to drag a tiring plot to the next chapter, were both exhausting and incredulous.

I sound so critical and I am being (sorry), but despite these reservations, the writing was good, the pace mostly fine and it turned out to be a nice holiday read, but not quite the breathless escapism the blurb promised and that I was hoping for. I am not sure I will read the rest in this series, as much as I am drawn to Atlantis as both a premise and a mystery, but there are plenty of others who have and will and that’s testimony to the magic the lost city still possesses and the imagination of Riddle.

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