Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Seichan in the spotlight

The Skeleton Key
by James Rollins

Readers of James Rollins’ Sigma novels should be familiar with his most enigmatic character, Seichan. (Though it should be said that you need no familiarity with the character or the series to enjoy this entertaining interlude.) Seichan is the only series character that appears in The Skeleton Key, and I have to say that it was all kinds of fun to see her take a central, rather than secondary, role this time around.

Seichan has long been the servant to two masters. It’s a dangerous position, but then again, she’s a dangerous lady. While chasing needed intel on behalf of Sigma, she returns to her Guild sources. But perhaps she hasn’t been as careful as she thinks she has. After what should have been a straightforward meeting with an academic source to secure a document, she wakes up nearly nude in a strange hotel room. She’s been drugged, booby-trapped, and worst of all—saddled with a partner in the same predicament. She had been trying to ascertain the source’s asking price for the info, and discovered that it was a lot higher than she realized. And his agenda went way beyond money.

The Skeleton Key calls on Seichan to use all of her considerable skills on an adventure through—and below—Paris. Mr. Rollins is also called on to use all of his considerable skills in service of this lengthy short story, and he comes through with a fast-paced, amusing precursor to his novel The Devil Colony. Ultimately, you don’t need to read this story before reading the novel, but if you’re waiting on pins and needles for the novel’s release, do treat yourself to this amuse-bouche, a bite-sized taste of what is to come. The story dovetails nicely into the novel, and here’s a heads-up: The Devil Colony is the best thing Rollins has ever written.

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