Echo (Breakthrough #6), by Michael C. Grumley

Eight stars

Michael C. Grumley has taken series readers on quite the adventure, positing much in the realm of science, sci fi, and even evolutionary beliefs. In what started as an attempt to bridge the communicative gap between humans and dolphins, Grumley has used the series to connect on a deeper level with where it all began and what influences may have been present, as well as how human evolution may have included species never thought part of the mix. With the IMIS team still using a cloak of secrecy, one of the senior members of the US administration is killed, perhaps for what he knows. John Clay and Steve Caesare are asked to look into it, only to discover that someone has been working to develop a powerful and unstoppable force that could make America more of a superpower. While Alison Shaw continues to work with her dolphins, she learns that they have more of a communicative interest than first imagined, about a vast array of topics and in much depth. When news that the next piece of the evolutionary puzzle exists in Europe, the team travels there, only to discover that it is much more complicated than at first glance. Another stellar piece of fiction with hidden truths the reader will have to decipher for themselves. Grumley is amazing and makes it all come together seamlessly. Series fans will love this newest instalment, though I would caution no one to use this as a starting point, as they will be completely flummoxed.
The fact that the IMIS team has been able to keep their missions and abilities to speak with other species completely secret is surely baffling to many. Through the use of a complex computer program, speaking to dolphins and, more recently, gorillas, has helped reveal some of the evolutionary truths that humans had yet to realise. However, when a senior official in the US Government is murdered, there are concerns that the truth may have leaked out and things could go sideways. It will be up to former Navy SEALS John Clay and Steve Caesare to get to the bottom of it all.
After following a few leads, it would appear that someone has been using some of the revelations and technological discoveries to create a super soldier, one who can not only withstand a great deal of injury, but also morph its DNA to better adapt to any situation. While the early tests have not been entirely successful, there is one out there, seeking some form of retribution on those who did them wrong.
All the while, marine biologist Alison Shaw continues to work with her dolphins, Dirk and Sally, as well as many others, trying to learn more about their intelligence and the evidence of an alien presence over the past millennia, leaving clues to the originis of Earth and species evolution. Shaw, having seen the magic of the life-enhancing substance the aliens left behind, seeks to use her connection with the dolphins to understand the narrative they offer, as she crafts a better understanding of human existence and where things are meant to go. 
Sally and Dirk appear to have a larger interest, seeking to interact with Li Na, a Chinese teenager who was given an injection of the alien substance and whose abilities seem heightened. The curiosity to seek communion with Li Na has Alison wondering what her dolphins know or wish to understand. Li Na herself has been showing some odd premonitions, things that show a cognitive connection to other species that is, as yet, completely misunderstood by the scientific community.
After Clay and Caesare return from their mission, they are told that the next piece of the alien narrative lies in a small European city, one that houses a relic that could help explain the evolutionary story. Travelling first to France and then to the African continent, Clay leads a team to uncover some old religious and historical artifacts, only to become more confused along the way. While the truth is out there, it is certainly not in plain sight. With moments of intense adventure and others of contemplation, this is another piece in Michael C. Grumley’s series that will have readers wondering and demanding more. The final novel in the series (as I was led to believe)? One can hope not, as there is much yet to be understood! Michael C. Grumley keeps the reader on the edge of their seat while crafting a collection of detailed novels where complex plots are the only thing that can be assured. The simple idea of inter-species communication has ballooned into something much more complicated, yet also highly intriguing for those who are patient and can handle a little science fiction with their thrills. This is yet another book that pushes the limits of the reader’s imagination, weaving together some portions that may be a tad fanciful with a great deal of history and science to keep the mind spinning. The narrative is ever-evolving and advancing, which adds another spark to the series and keeps me coming back for more. Keeping track of everything may be a little much for the reader seeking a superficial read, but those who want adventure and to think as they flip pages, this is a series perfectly catered to your desires.
Grumley has does a wonderful job in developing his key characters throughout the series, adding depth to their personalities, as well as roles. There is a great deal of development as it relates to the larger narrative and where each character fits, but the personal connections between those who grace the pages of the book are not forgotten. Friendships, romance, and even some deeper banter create a wonderful contrast to the struggle for understanding of the larger human evolution theme that the series presents. Grumley has found the perfect balance and those readers who like to enjoy their characters will find the author has not skimped when it comes to that part of the series advancement.
Rather than focusing on secondary characters here, I thought I would mention that Grumley has been able to effectively push history, science, and philosophical thought in the novel, which has also been present in the entire series. The reader cannot sit idly by, flipping pages, and hope to absorb all that the book has to offer. There is a strong ‘active reading’ expectation, though the benefits pay off exponentially for those who invest themselves. While not written in a highly technical manner, there is a lot to digest and comprehend, pulling on threads from past plots and novels. The story is ever-advancing, but requires acute attention to detail to understand things properly. Fair warning to readers (though, by this point, one should have read the previous five novels to understand 99% of what I have written).
Grumley has ensured that the narrative advances continually for those who seek action and thrills in their reading experience, peppering in the science and history needed to illicit some ‘aha’ moments. The strong characters continue to reveal themselves in new and exciting ways, but do not impede the larger narrative as it relates to science, technology, or evolution. While there are some eye-rolling moments, I was able to set those aside and completely lose myself in the writing, which never leaves the reader feeling less than enthused by what is presented. Puritanical readers may want to stay away, as Grumley has created a more… realistic presentation of dialogue, which does include the odd naughty word. This is a strong series and keeps the reader thinking, begging to better understand where we (humans) came from and what connection we have with other species on more than a superficial level.

Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for another stunning read. While rumours that this was the final novel made it to me, I am prepared to retract that statement, as much remains unsolved! I cannot wait to see what you have to say next.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Mosaic (Breakthrough #5), by Michael C. Grumley

Eight stars

This series by Michael C. Grumley uses his captivating narrative to keep exploring the world of life beyond humans and how our evolution is strongly tied to the animals around us. Peppering in a little science fiction alongside his strong plots, Grumley transports the reader on a journey like no other. Gathering up the threads from past novels, this story pushes ahead in many facets. Alison Shaw continues to make amazing discoveries alongside her two trusty dolphins, leading to some interesting revelations off the coast of Trinidad. A young gorilla and capuchin monkey shed much light on life in Africa for another biologist, keen to see new parallels between humans and other species. All the while, a young Chinese girl holds a powerful secret inside her, one that could revolutionize the understanding of inter-species communication and connectivity. Packed with action, there is little time for the reader to catch their breath. Meant solely for series fans (as there is no way one could pick this book up as a standalone), Grumley does a masterful job filling in the gaps and creating new ones for those who seek more.

The IMIS system is getting to be quite the commodity, especially as other agencies learn that communication between humans and animals (dolphins and gorillas for the time being) is possible. Marine biologist Alison Shaw and her team see the perils and choose to hide it as best they can, while still honing its power to the best of their abilities. Shaw is able to work with Sally and Dirk, her trusted dolphins, learning more about them and some of the hierarchy that exist. This includes a special dolphin who appears to exhibit a number of powerful traits, all of which baffle Shaw to no end.

Off the coast of Trinidad, the team has discovered a portal left on the ocean floor by other beings. They seek to better understand it and try probing deep inside, only to have an accident cost the safety of a team member. Deemed lost, everyone gives up hope, but the dolphins know otherwise and communicate a plan to help extract the missing team member, in hopes of turning disaster into something positive.

Meanwhile, young Li Na is still recovering from the injection her father gave her, which appears to have instilled a number of strong powers into her body, not the least of which is youth and a strong connection to the animals around her. However, such power comes at a consequence and she is kidnapped again, in hopes that someone will be able to use those powers for their own good. Li Na and her fellow captive must wrest control away from the kidnappers before they become disposable in the eyes of everyone.

On the African continent, a young gorilla, Dulce, and capuchin monkey have opened the eyes of their handler to many new connections with humans. It would appear that other mammals hold keys to human evolution, some of which have been out there and never connected over the centuries. There is surely so much more to understand about animals that has not been discovered, making these small steps only the start of a powerful journey for everyone to enjoy.

As the actions ramps up and truths are revealed at every turn, Grumley takes readers on a journey that is as intense as it is masterful. I cannot say enough about the books and the story, thought they are not for the feint of heart. This series gets better the further one explores, though the intensity is also something that must be balanced. So much is going on that I have almost come to need a flowchart to keep it all straight.

Michael C. Grumley keeps developing highly-detailed novels whose complex plots are becoming harder to digest without full concentration. What began as a ‘novel’ concept has exploded into a powerful series that requires all my attention to understand how the pieces come together effectively. The books push the limits of science and social interactions, while also being highly entertaining and completely educational. Still, there are some readers who bemoan the literary freedoms used to keep the story moving. While I never expected to be, I am addicted to the plots where there is a great deal of action. I find myself listening particularly closely to the science, in hopes of understanding at least some of it, but am also accepting much of what I read, as I cannot parse some of the ideas into reality and complete fiction. Grumley has discovered a great recipe of fully engaging his readers and I cannot fault him at all.

The book again offers fans of the series a glimpse into the lives of many characters familiar to them throughout. While things began with only a few sharing the limelight, there are now more than can be effectively hashed out in a review. I will say that I thoroughly enjoy how Grumley balances character development within the plot, while also adding some personal growth as well. This is important, as it is not always running and shooting and scientific discovery, but personal connections that keep these characters relatable.

There are some interesting developments in the animal world as well. Grumley has used some of the narrative to add personality to those who are not humans. The reader can connect and feel that personal growth of the likes of Sally, Dirk, and even Dulce. It’s a wonderful sight to see me looking to know more about these types of characters as well, showing that Grumley has taken the time to make them more than simply add-ons to the story for the reader to see as mere ‘pets’.

Grumley has kept the story strong yet again and has many ideas flowing together, which bridges the novels effectively. The narrative advances at a clipped pace and keeps the reader wondering where things are headed. There are numerous moments of education for the scientific aspects of the plot, with a great deal of humour peppered throughout. Grumley does not make this an easy or light read, though it is thorough educational and opened my eyes (and mind) numerous times. As mentioned above, there is great character development, both through the narrative and dialogue. Grumley uses this to craft characters the reader will surely enjoy. That being said, some will bemoan the ‘natural language’ that begins creeping into the text. While sex and gratuitous violence are not present, I admit, the odd salty word makes an appearance, though it seems to fit the context well and is not overdone, for puritanical lovers of the series. Grumley again uses a mix of chapter lengths to engage the reader well into staying up well into the night. This being the penultimate novel in the series (so I am told), there is much to be resolved in the final novel.

Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for another strong read. I cannot wait to see where you end things with this stunning series.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Ripple (Breakthrough #4), by Michael C. Grumley

Eight stars

Michael C. Grumley returns to further explore the evolution of mammals, as well as their interconnectivity in this stunning series. Pushing a little science fiction alongside his captivating narrative, Grumley takes the reader on a deeper and more intense journey with each new novel in the collection. The action is intense, as the Russians are now eager to get their hands on whatever is rocking the genetic world, while the Chinese remain on guard and want what they felt was theirs all along. While Alison and John try to settle in Trinidad, they realise that it is Africa (specifically Rwanda) that might hold the key to this life force, while also helping them to better understand the evolution of the human race all those millennia ago. There’s also some understanding of what the foreign DNA source can do for humans, which has both positive and negative side effects for all involved. This is surely another winner by Michael C. Grumley, perfect for series fans and those who want an impactful novel that will open the mind and eyes simultaneously.

There is no end to the chills that have filled the past two novels, particularly when the Russians realise that there is something going on under their noses. While one of their submarines was destroyed as they watched Chinese officials collect some plant life, they are certain that it can be something beneficial to them. The Russians, still lurking under the water, prepare to strike and take what they feel is theirs to possess, but they do not yet fully understand it or what powers it could possess.

The Chinese know all too well what this is and they want it back. In a new and intensified geo-political fight, Chinese authorities are ready to take what they feel was theirs to begin with, using force and whatever they can to ensure no one else gets hold of their prized biological (and botanical) find. It is sure to cause some trouble, but the Chinese are ready to do whatever it takes.

All the while, Alison Shaw and John Clay are part of a new and highly secretive team tasked with better understanding some of their earlier discoveries with communication, life outside Earth, and some of the aforementioned highly sought-after intel. When aliens came to Earth all those years ago, they left the lifeblood of humanity, weaving it not only into some early mammals, but also depositing it in a vault of sorts. This is why dolphins, gorillas, and humans have so many similarities, something that Shaw and some of her other biologists are discovering again as they watch the interactions with their respective subjects. Dolphins Sally and Dirk appear to be making headway in their communication with one another and Alison, but adding Dulce, a gorilla, to the mix opens even more avenues of study.

While Shaw and Clay concentrate their time in Trinidad, it is not long before they realise that it is the African continent that holds all the secrets they must uncover. Trekking there, it is first thought that Ethiopia is where they ought to be, but soon discover that Rwanda, still teetering on the brink from recent civil war, is where the true discoveries exist. Working to further some gorilla research that has taken place, Shaw and the IMIS team venture to the region, where they learn more about gorillas and their impact on the larger mammalian advancements on Earth.

The stakes are high with both the Chinese and Russians ramping up their efforts to take what they want and leave a massacre if that is what’s needed. Shaw and Clay are not safe, nor are the discoveries they have uncovered. Add to that, a young woman, Lei Na, remains a sought after commodity in her native China, as she possesses a unique strain of DNA inside her, saved by her father before he died doing what he felt was right for all. It’s more intensity in a series that has never lacked it. And there is so much more I did not cover, best revealed by the reader when they dive in!

Michael C. Grumley baffles many as he constructs a highly-detailed and easy to digest series with this collection of well-paced novels. Each book pushes the limits of scientific possibilities without becoming too ‘out there’, even as some readers whine because it is not cut and dry enough for them. Science fiction has never been my strong suit, but I have made an effort to relax my guard and allowed a moment to learn, which has been effective in allowing me to become highly addicted to this series. I am drawn to the plots with a great deal of action, particularly as they include strong characters. Grumley has discovered a great recipe of captivating plot lines, unique scientific discoveries, and much action to keep the reader fully engaged.

The book offers series fans many characters on which to connect, some being series-long protagonists, while others are minor folk who have stepped into the limelight. I thoroughly enjoy how Grumley has been able to balance development with an ever-complex plot, not losing the reader with so many personalities to juggle. Some great story arcs are emerging, both in the scientific world and personal development of some, especially Alison Shaw and John Clay. I continue to watch their advancements, as well as some of the interaction they have with others, all while trying to keep everyone straight and clear without a formal flow chart. It may be tough, but the challenge keeps me on my toes.

The secondary characters Grumley peppers throughout the story have become the political actors. They serve the primary role of advancing the ego-political clashes that technology that reap, keeping the reader who enjoys that aspect of writing on their toes. While I can never be sure if there will others, an American-Chinese-Russian political triangle can do enough damage and I am keen to see how Grumley will handle it.

Grumley keeps the story strong and the ideas flowing in another novel that interconnects with the previous three. The narrative advanced well and kept the reader seeking more with each chapter, providing moments of education in the scientific aspects of the plot. There is so much to digest, though it is not tossed at the reader simultaneously, permitting a great development over all four novels, though for some it might be a little much to take in. There’s great character development, both in the narrative and strong dialogue, allowing Grumley to craft those the reader will surely enjoy, while there are others who will surely be despised for their own reasons. Grumley again uses a mix of chapter lengths to trap the reader into staying up well into the night, stringing them along at key moments. I remain baffled as to why I am so enthralled with this series, but have no complaints whatsoever.

Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for another strong read. Where are you taking us next?!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Catalyst (Breakthrough #3), by Michael C. Grumley

Eight stars

Michael C. Grumley is back with another thrilling ride that further explores nature and the secrets it holds. Picking up soon after the previous novel ended, Grumley pulls the reader in with new excitement as geo-political conflict increases against a backdrop of a sensational new discovery in a remote jungle. With a handful of key players doing their part, it will be a race for answers, while keeping things somewhat secret until it can all be synthesised. There is action and even some sorrow, but something electrifying is pushing the story forward, into a world of extreme unknowns. Another winner by Michael C. Grumley that will have series fans on the edge of their seats, demanding more!

The tense nature of the previous novel’s end comes crashing into the opening pages of this piece, as the story kicks into high gear. The Chinese are baffled as to what’s happened to their warship and can only surmise that it must be the Americans who have tried to foil their plans. However, there is the added confusion as to what was going on in South America that has high-ranking officials even more confused. Someone’s been hiding something essential and it could mean weakness, even a political coup gathering momentum. To allow such a crack would be unheard of within the communist hierarchy.

On the other side of the world, someone’s killed a powerful man in South America likely because he knew something of some importance. While US Navy investigators John Clay and Steve Caesare are aware, they must dodge accusations that they might have been involved, while also getting to the root of the issue. It surrounds a group of capuchin monkeys, some of whom are showing some highly unique qualities pertaining to prolonged life. Could there be something in their DNA that holds the answers many have sought for centuries to locate? Caesare takes on the task of learning what he must, while dodging those who would do him harm all the while.

In Puerto Rico, marine biologist Alison Shaw continues to work with her two dolphins, Sally and Dirk, learning much about their life experiences through some of her high-tech communication software. Shaw has also discovered the healing capabilities of these two, when a young girl who has been diagnosed with a severe illness emerges unscathed from a swim in their tank. Shaw has also been working on expanding her communication tool, working with a young gorilla, Dulce, which has helped to expand the parameters of understanding between the species.

While John Clay travels to learn some of the secrets behind the veil of secrecy in China, Steve Caesare focuses his attention on the South American adventure. Both find themselves in a great deal of trouble as they peel things back a little more, understanding that the properties of some plant in the Guyanese forests could hold the answer for everyone. However, the revelations come with new risks and added dangers that could, and will, leave someone dead. This is sure to send shockwaves across the team and leave Alison to wonder if she has taken one step too many in her quest to better understand what’s going on in the world and how other animals can piece together than which humans do not fully comprehend.

And then there is the vault that’s been located on a remote island… and a second one that is filled with embryos. What is it and who built it? It’s a mystery that adds new layers of excitement and thrills to an already complex story!

Michael C. Grumley continues to construct a strong series that pushes the limits and possibilities, keeping some readers on the defensive. While science fiction has never been an area of particular interest for me, I’ve found myself drawn to the stories, plots, and even some of the characters. Grumley mixes together thrilling plots, curious scientific discoveries, and great development to keep the reader pushing forward.

The book offers series fans a great look at a number of protagonists, each pushing their respective plotline forward. John Clay and Alison Shaw have had some time in the limelight, but their growth continues in this piece, both in their own spheres and together. Each holds onto the reader’s attention as they progress through the story, captivating it with ease. Additing Steve Caesare to the mix provides some interesting flavour to the narrative and offers another perspective to keep the reader’s attention hooked. His grit and determination, partnered with some well-deserved humour, keeps things light when it serves him well, while never missing a chance to show his abilities.

The secondary characters Grumley peppers throughout the story keep things on point. Returning characters are especially important for this piece, as the action connects with the previous novel, though there are new faces and flavourings that keep the story from getting too repetitive. There are some who complement the political undertone of the story, while others make their impact through the science side of things. There is surely something for everyone in this piece, with a supporting cast sure to appeal to a large cross-section of readers.

Grumley offers more great plots and decent characters in this bridging novel. The narrative flowed well where it needed to keep the reader engaged and educated in the scientific aspects to provide a new spin and something a little ‘out of this world’. Wonderful dialogue highlights some of the strong characters Grumley developed, provided needed humour and moments of tension to enrich the reader experience. A mix of chapter lengths works to lure the reader in and strings them along, allowing them to feel a strong part of the building action. I continue to surprise myself by finding such an interest in this series, as sci fi is something I usually leave to others.

Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for another intense read. Let’s see what else is out there.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

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:

Breakthrough (Breakthrough #1), by Michael C. Grumley

Eight stars

Working off a strong recommendation by a dear friend, I chose to venture into the world of Michael C. Grumley and this series. Having sped through the prequel short story, I was intrigued to see how it would all come together. It’s hard to slot this book into a specific genre, as it is part science fiction, part action, and even part biological. However one might label it, Grumley did well in its delivery and has me wanting to know a little more. Alison Shaw has been working at an aquarium for the past five years, focussing on two dolphins. Slowly, but surely, a scientific breakthrough is made that could change the way humans see the dolphin world, but it is still too soon to reveal it all. Meanwhile, a nuclear submarine goes missing and the US Government is keen to learn more. Might the technology that Shaw and her team possess be essential to finding the sub and learning what happened? Grumley certainly piques the interest of the attentive reader with this first novel in a jam-packed series.

Deep in the ocean, a US submarine goes well off course and no one aboard can tell what’s happened. It’s panic all over the place and there is nothing that can be done. Radar shows the anomaly and yet no one can properly explain the phenomena. It is only later, when two Navy Seals find an odd ring on the ocean floor that possible theories begin to emerge.

Alison Shaw has been working at a Miami aquarium for the past five years, hoping to make something of herself. Her work with two dolphins looks promising, so much so that the latest project has her highly excited about what is to come. By recording and synthesising much of the communicative speech patterns, Shaw and her team have been able to effectively engage in two-way dialogue with the dolphins. Through a high-tech computer, basic interaction between humans and dolphins seems possible, which will surely create a stir in the scientific community, as well as with the general public.

When members of the US Government learn of the dolphins’ abilities, they come knocking, if only to tap into this new resource. Using the dolphins to probe what might be taking place deep on the ocean floor could have a numerous benefits, particularly as there is now a means by which communication is possible. However, Shaw and her team are not ready to rent out the dolphins to the highest bidder, making them more of a circus act than they appear to be to attendees of the aquarium.

On the other side of the world, a massive ice quake rocks Antarctica. A number of scientists are killed and early detection explores the possibility of a major tsunami that could rock both sides of the Atlantic, should something not be done. Early signs point to a phenomena that is not quite understood, though it might all relate to that ring on the bottom of the ocean. Who is behind the ring and what will it mean for those in military and political power? Is there a new enemy emerging, one the Americans have yet to fully respect? Grumley poses this and many other questions in this thriller that pulls on many interesting threads while keeping the reader engaged throughout.

I am the first to admit that science fiction is not usually my cup of tea, but this piece had something that pulled me in from the get-go. It might have been the realism that Michael C. Grumley presents, or even that there was a grounded science and even loose political aspect to the piece, but I am happy to have accepted the recommendation to read this book and want to know more. Grumley pushes reality up against the supernatural and presses a case for what might be out there and how current technology may be on the cusp of greatness, which boggles the mind and makes it all the more exciting.

Alison Shaw serves as the likely protagonist in this piece, pulling on much of her work to guide the book’s plot. While she has been snubbed by the US Navy before, stymying her research, she tries to keep an open mind when it comes to using this linguistic technology. She is adamant that her dolphins are not playthings for use by the highest bidder, but she is also keen to help where she can. Her drive for success can be seen throughout the piece, never overshadowed by stardom. It is a push for the truth over all else that keeps her in the middle of the story and I am eager to see what comes of her character in subsequent novels.

Grumley certainly develops a strong supporting cast in this piece to keep the reader on their toes throughout. There is so much going on throughout the various subplots that the reader is forced to entertain many names and characters whose roles play a vital part of the overall story. Grumley does well to differentiate them one from the other and never loses the momentum needed to keep everyone of interest to the reader. There are hints that some may appear throughout the series while others are surely one-offs, used to propel the plot forward.

The story was great and kept my attention throughout. While I am not fully engaged with writing that pushes things too far out of the realm of reality, I allowed myself a little reprieve in order to entertain what Grumley wanted to pass along to his readers. There is much to learn from the story and the themes emerge throughout. A strong narrative guides the story along, layered with strong characters and realistic dialogue. Grumley uses a variety of chapter lengths to keep the reader engaged, filling them with knowledge at some points and rushing them from point to point on other occasions as well. I am intrigued with where things are headed and can only hope that Grumley has something equally as exciting to come in the next novel, for which I am reaching as I finalise this review.

Kudos, Mr. Grumley, for this intriguing perspective that gets the story going. I have many questions that I hope begin to receive answers as I push forward.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: