Cute little stolen gypsy kids hold the balance of power as a Russian supermom plans to poison several ecosystems.
Opening with the sack of Delphi by Romans unhappy with the latest oracular projections, Rollins (The Judas Strain, 2007, etc.) pauses briefly in the mid-century communist Romanian Carpathians where Russians, led by a very tough dame, stage a brutal attack on an isolated gypsy village. He next plunges us into present-day Washington, D.C., where a derelict scientist takes a sniper’s bullet in his back and falls into the arms of Sigma Force strongman Gray Pierce just outside the Smithsonian castle. Gray, who had taken the old guy to be a homeless vet, is surprised to be slipped an ancient Greek coin by the dying man who, upon examination in Sigma’s handy lab deep under the Smithsonian castle, is revealed to have been a professor. The corpse is highly radioactive. Gray and his team, mourning the recent death of their resourceful one-armed colleague Monk Bryant, are plunged into solving the murder, which was the work of one of the Russians from that Carpathian massacre, now a grandfatherly scientist who has in tow Sasha, a little gypsy girl sporting a surgical steel implant that sets off seeming psychic superpowers. She’s one of a crop of children bred from a strain of savants swept up in that Romanian raid. The experiments with the kids continued after the Soviet collapse thanks to an influx of capitalist cash, so once agent Gray starts following clues, he finds that he and his team are in danger not only from evil Russians but from evil Americans. Meanwhile, in radioactive Ukraine, Monk Bryant, not at all dead, wakes from an amnesiac coma to answer a plea for help from a swarm of kids and a kindly chimp with cranial implants just like the one he now sports. It all has to do with a plot to restore Russia to its rightful place.
Not scary enough to distract from the wacky science.