Leap (Breakthrough #2), by Michael C. Grumley

Eight stars

Sticking with a strong recommendation by a dear friend, I chose to venture deeper into this series. Grumley is back with the second full-length novel in his Breakthrough series, sure to pique the interest of those who want something with a little sci-fi alongside some true action. Grumley has spent a great deal of time looking at how politics and biological issues meld together in a fast-paced book that is free from the tirade of profanity to express opinions. After a stellar series debut, Grumley returns to explore the expansion of linguistic interpretation between humans and animals, as well as something of international drama when a country is found to be secretly extracting items in the Caribbean. Grumley dishes out some wonderful storytelling and keeps the series on its toes, with a few more novels to follow.

After having relocated to Puero Rico, marine biologist Alison Shaw and her team have been taking in all the publicity they can handle. Sally and Dirk, two dolphins who are able to communicate through a piece of high-tech software, have been enjoying their time and ability to interact freely. However, there is a new challenge on the horizon and it will not be easy. As humans are closely related to gorillas, it would make sense that they communicate with one another. This has been possible through some tweaking and with new technology. Affixing a vest to the wearer, it’s now possible for humans to speak with their primate cousins, something that has caught the attention of a billionaire with a mission in mind for Alison and her crew.

Down in South America, the US Navy has become alerted to an experimental submarine, part of Russia’s fleet, having resurfaced off the coast of Brazil. Thought to have been dismantled, this sub is still fully functional and ready to show off what it can do. US Navy officers John Clay and Steve Caesare arrive to investigate and report back what might be going on. Clay and Caesare discover much, none of it uplifting, during their short time in the region. Clay and Caesare learn that a handful of soldiers have been disappearing into the jungle at night, using the cover of darkness to masquerade their true intentions. When a Chinese warship becomes part of the situation, it’s a new level of panic for all involved. This is sure to rock the Navy as they try to determine what’s next.

While Alison and her crew embark on a mission to save a fellow scientist and locate a monkey, there is more to the story than meets the eye. Technology is sometimes a richer commodity than money and its capabilities can be deadly if they land in the wrong hands. All the while, Clay and Caesare realise just how troubling new discoveries can be, particularly when they are done in secret and the scientific realities are not revealed to the general public. Some significant decisions will have to be made to fend-off what is sure to be a massive international clash in the coming days. Tensions are high, as this is something that could change the world as we know it, forever!

Michael C. Grumley has been working hard to develop this series and this book surely pulled me in a little deeper. Science fiction has never been an area of interest for me, but this book has something that I cannot explain, leaving me wanting more and needing to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Grumley spins a tale and peppers it with some great science, as well as a dose of drama, all while keeping the political and international thriller angles in high gear for those who love that sort of thing.

The book is split between Alison Shaw and John Clay, whose adventures are mostly separate but do venture together on occasion. That these two have an interest in one another cannot be dismissed, but both have grown throughout this piece and the series to date. There is a great deal of character development within the pages of this book, keeping the reader curious about how they feel about Shaw and Clay. Hints of where things may lead can be found throughout, helping to enrich further development in the novels to come. I am keen to see how things transpire and where these hints will go, as well as what blossoms.

With a handful of central secondary characters, Grumley keeps the reader connected to the series throughout. There are those who have returned from the debut novel, though the new faces are just as exciting and provide the reader with more to enjoy. I found all those who made an appearance added to the story on some level, though there were some i hope never to see again, as they did little for me. Mixing the various genres in this book, the type of characters cannot be blended into one. There were some strong political characters that will surely keep things going into the forthcoming novels, but it is the science that really has me curious, especially since I am by no means well-versed with that realm.

Grumley does well to keep the reader on their toes throughout this piece, offering up some great plots and a decent collection of characters. The narrative flowed well and kept me intrigued until the very end, left to guess in which direction things would develop. Strong characters pushed the piece along, using wonderful dialogue to keep me learning as I forged deeper into the piece. A mix of chapter lengths had me rushing to learn more on some occasions, while I was pulled into the story with the more detailed sections as well. I am surprised to be so interested in this series, since this is not a genre to which I flock regularly. That being said, you can never judge a book by its cover, or dust jacket blurb..

Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for another captivating piece! I cannot wait to see what’s to come.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons