by Jeremy Robinson

(extraordinary; top 10% of SciThri)

Year published: 2010
Category: science thriller; action thriller; series (Chess team #2)

Tech rating (out of 5):


The Chess Team, a group of four men and one woman plus the mysterious “Deep Blue”, is the ultimate special forces/black ops unit, assigned only the most dangerous, most difficult, and most important precision commando-type assignments.  In this adventure, the team is summoned to the jungles of a remote mountain range in Vietnam to find the cure for an infectious disease that may kill every male human before it’s done–starting with the President of the U.S.  With an extra team member–a female CDC scientist–the mission is nearly a disaster from the start, as their arrival in the region is not unexpected by a local force.  Most of all, an additional enemy threatens: the Nguoi Rung, an unknown, savage, monstrously strong, and very hungry group of creatures…


I’m so pleased to announce that I’ve found a new 5-star SciThri writer.  He’s new to me, that is; Jeremy Robinson has been writing novels for a long time.  I was just too slow to listen to those who said to me, with amazement in their eyes, “You haven’t read Jeremy Robinson???”  After reading just one of his many books, I’m now a Jeremy Robinson fan.

Instinct is the apotheosis of the science action thriller.  How many thrillers have been described as “page-turning”, or having “nonstop” or “roller coaster” action, and the like?  Well, this one tops them all.  This is an action lover’s novel, and I get the feeling this is what the author is known for.  Normally, I’m more into brainy themes than barrages of bullets, but you can’t help being sucked into this story.  It has more guns than the last three science thrillers I’ve read put together.  Violent death or torture is threatened on virtually every single page

The relentless action makes reading this book feel a bit like playing a video game.  You beat the bad guys on one level, and they come back even badder on the next.  They say that when writing a thriller, you should put your protagonist through hell–and then turn up the heat.  Robinson does this.  The only other science thriller writer whose books are somewhat similar is James Rollins with his Sigma Force series.  But Robinson’s Chess Team is grittier, edgier, more violent.  Unlike Sigma Force, none of the Chess Team members are scientists.  They’re comic book superheroes.

But superheroes with tremendous heart.  They’re not only a team; they’re a family.  They may not say much, but they get under your skin.  I want to read more about them.  I care.

So what about the science?  Instinct’s plot is put in motion by an apparent attempt to assassinate the President using a virus that alters DNA and suddenly stops the heart.  Sounds goofy, and it is.  But throughout the book, Robinson does an interesting job of melding good technical research with outrageous extrapolation of the truth (the genetic heart disease he describes is real and accurately portrayed).  Like James Rollins’ books, this book crosses over into sci fi.

No problem, SciThri fans.  The scientifically silly stuff is harmless fun, not really misinformation or ignorance.  And there’s so much factual stuff underlying it to enjoy: Brugada syndrome; EKGs; Sensory processing disorder; Agent Orange; evolution; neanderthals; crystal molecular structures; STDs; viral vectors for gene therapy.

If that’s not enough for you, Instinct also has a plot explaining the origins of the Chinese written language and Hindu deities, not to mention a lost underground city and a living race of not-so-extinct primates

IN SHORT:  An action-packed thriller with both scientific and historic subplots, oodles of combat, all in a quality 5-star package that should appeal especially to tech-minded readers who enjoy playing “Mortal Kombat” or “Super Smash Bros.”

PARENT ALERT: torture scene; language; adult themes

If you like this book, you’ve got to read: Sigma force novels by James Rollins; historical action thrillers by Steve Berry; and more books by Jeremy Robinson, of course, including his new series of co-authored CALLSIGN novellas about each individual member of the Chess Team.  Also, a completely different kind of book–The White Plague by Frank Herbert–shares a similar theme: a plague that will kill half of humanity, in this case, all the women.

If you like lethal Asian femme fatales, after Instinct try a James Rollins Sigma Force book (character: Seichan) or Spiral by Paul McEuen

Jeremy Robinson’s Chess Team / Jack Sigler series
(which is not the only series he’s written):

Pulse (2009); Instinct (2010); Threshold (2011); Callsign:King; Callsign: Queen; etc. (2011)