Following the fall of Baghdad, two Iraqi boys stumble upon armed men looting the city zoo, opening the floodgates for the smuggling of hundreds of exotic birds, mammals, and reptiles to Western nations. But this crime hides a deeper secret. Amid a hail of bullets, an underground secret weapons lab is ransacked--and something even more horrific is set free. Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk stumbles upon a fishing trawler shipwrecked on a barrier island. The crew is missing or dead, but the boat holds a frightening cargo: a caged group of exotic animals, clearly part of a black market smuggling ring. Yet, something is wrong with these beasts, disturbing deformities that make no sense: a parrot with no feathers, a pair of Capuchin monkeys conjoined at the hip, a jaguar cub with the dentition of a saber-tooth tiger. They also all share one uncanny trait--a disturbingly heightened intelligence. To uncover the truth about the origin of this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses, Lorna must team up with a man who shares a dark and bloody past with her, now an agent of the U.S. Border Patrol, Jack Menard.
Together, the two must hunt for a beast that escaped the shipwreck while uncovering a mystery tied to fractal science and genetic engineering, all to expose a horrifying secret that traces back to mankind's earliest roots. But can Lorna stop what is about to be born upon the altar of Eden before it threatens not only the world, but also the very foundation of what it means to be human?
James Rollins is the author of eight bestselling novels. An amateur spelunker and scuba enthusiast, he holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri. He currently lives and writes in Sacramento, California.