The Midnight Watch
A Short Story Exclusive
Released On: Nov 03, 2015

From New York Times, bestselling author James Rollins comes a lightning-paced short story, in which a major attack on U.S. soil can only be stopped by…The Midnight Watch

In the dead of night, a faceless enemy hacks into the Smithsonian Institution’s network of servers, but it is only the first strike masking a larger attack. To rescue a biologist trapped in the National Museum of Natural History and to discover the true intent behind an assault that grows bolder and bloodier by the minute, Sigma Force must unleash its most headstrong operative—Joe Kowalski—to do what he does best: lay waste to anything between him and his goal. From a daring rescue to a cross-city chase like no other, Kowalski will discover the shocking truth hidden in the most unexpected of places: the heart of the National Zoo.

*Included with this short story is a sneak peek at The Bone Labyrinth, where events that unfold here explode into one of Sigma Force’s greatest adventures of all time.

*The Short Story The Midnight Watch now available in the omnibus “Unrestricted Access: New and Classic Short Fiction and is also included in the paperback edition of The Bone Labyrinth.

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Critical Acclaim

  • I just finished reading The Midnight Watch by New York Times bestselling author James Rollins. I'm calling this one number 10 1/2 in the Sigma Force series. This short story features Seaman Joe Kowalski. Joe hasn't flown solo since "Kowalski's In Love" (2012 - Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night), his Brazilian vacation that turned into a hair-raising, grisly half hour struggle for survival. He may be a big, bumbling accident waiting to happen, but he gets the job done. With Kowalski, there seems to be chaos around every corner. The bad guys may suffer a few broken bones and a building or two might get blown up, but in the end, it's all par for the course. I don't think there's a brick of C4 out there that doesn't have Joe's name or fingerprints on it. (I also have a sneaking suspicion Joe is Jim's alter ego. They both have this single-minded fascination with blowing things up.) All I know is "the party doesn't start until Joe gets here!" He brings the entertainment with him. With Joe, every day is the Fourth of July! It's not easy taking 'larger than life' characters and making them human. Jim has a knack for exposing their humanity. According to the Sigma Guide, Kowalski's profile says "his brown eyes don't seem to hold hidden depths". I beg to differ. Over the course of these last 10 novels, we have witnessed a blossoming of Joe's personality that has exposed a very vulnerable giant of a man. This short story only confirms that aspect. Even the biggest and strongest of men can have the wind knocked out of them due to the emotions of a lost love. It also reminded me how much I have missed the Sigma Force team. I have missed the excitement. The car chases. The shootouts. The science! This tidbit of a short story had it all. The unknown enemy strikes at the heart of the Smithsonian's computer system. Hackers are after files containing information on ancient DNA. Director Painter Crowe sends in the only man he has available. Follow Kowalski as he tries to extract a trapped researcher from the National Zoo.
    I really like these short stories that give us a revealing glimpse into the hidden personalities and lives of our favorite Sigma Force members. The first one, The Skeleton Key (2011), had Seichan fighting for her life in the underground catacombs of Paris, the City of Lights. The second one, Tracker (2012), introduced us to Captain Tucker Wayne and his war dog, Kane (occasional Sigma Force operatives). Their short story involves a rescue of a mysterious woman in Budapest. Here's hoping each Sigma character gets to move into the spotlight and have their chance to show what they are capable of physically and emotionally and be allowed to shine as the star of their own short story.
    As for the tantalizing sneak peek to The Bone Labyrinth . . . I WANT IT NOW! As much as it pains me, I will relax, take three deep breaths and persevere until December 15th. But, it is going to take every ounce of will power I've got!

    Su Ann Thompson [They're back! Sigma Force is in the building.] (Reader Review)
  • A fast paced novella that gives us additional information about Joe Kowalski. This one has a bit of everything you can imagine; a rescue of a researcher, computer hacking by unknowns, car chase through the streets of Washington DC, major gun shootout, a bit of science with Ancient DNA research. Yep, this 5 star Novella has it ALL! Well done Mr James Rollins! NOW, we want more

    Jerry Zavada [Kowalski in action!] (Reader Review)
  • A good intro. Of COURSE this short story is a teaser for an upcoming novel - but that is a good thing. While Midnight Watch might very well turn out to be the opening chapter of The Bone Labyrinth, it stands on its own as a tight, thrilling, short story. It has a beginning, a middle and an END. You want to know what the bad guys were up to, of course, but this short doesn't leave you hanging on the edge of a cliff. Also, the good news is that Labyrinth is due out in December, so no real wait in any case. Well worth the 99 cents.

    John Patin [Adventure on the Mall as only Rollins can write it.] (Reader Review)
  • Glad to see Kowalski get a hero role. Looks like Rollins is getting back to his veterinarian roots. Can't wait to read next novel!

    J. S. Bandich [Sigma Segue] (Reader Review)
  • So much fun to have an adventure with Kowalski. I always enjoy his involvement in the missions. My only complaint is that I want Bone Labyrinth now!

    CarterFSU [Kowalski!] (Reader Review)
  • Loved it! Kowalski is great, and working and driving his cj7 is awesome(I'm a major jeep fan, own three of my own, trail riding and muddling it a blast) but Kowalski in charge was great and he could handle it!! Love to see him in charge of another adventure!!

    Wendy Hill [Awesome] (Reader Review)
  • A fascinating little insight into Kowalski's thoughts and character. Rather shorter than other James Rollins stories, but worth a look. There's a short preview of the Bone Labyrinth, Rollins' next book, at the end. I refrained from reading that, I can wait a month for the full version.

    Adrienne [A fascinating little insight into Kowalski's thoughts and character. ...] (Reader Review)
  • This tightly written short story is a great appetizer for consuming the next Rollins book. As the cast of characters continues to deepen, the tales get better and better.

    Scott Black [A short roller coaster ride] (Reader Review)
  • The plot finally solidify once Joe was given the lead in this short. Good quick read.

    Alicia Steve [Promotion for Kowalski.] (Reader Review)
  • It was a pleasure to see Kowalsky "promoted" to a key character, since his insertion on James' world during the Ice Hunt novel where Kowalsky had a felt participation, before he even joined Sigma Force, he kind of became a side character at Sigma. After The Midnight Watch, a prequel of The Bone Labyrinth it is totally different, he made his mark and will be more active, he is funny as hell. The prequel is short but full of action and very much Kowalsky type...explosion and improvisation. Well done James.

    Canthama [Kowalski becomes a key player at Sigma Force] (Reader Review)
  • It's great to see Joe Kowalski come into his own.

    John Ellsworth [Go Joe] (Reader Review)
  • James Rollins is one of my favorite writers because his books have the perfect blend of high octane adventure, geeky science and the often bizarre but true history we never knew. The Midnight Watch sizzles with kinetic energy and action. His characters are believable and the story has an unusual twist where a deep secret is revealed. I usually can't put his books down and the only disappointment is that he doesn't write more often. For non-stop action, adventure and for an often mind bending story read this author.

    James Canton, CEO Institute for Global Futures author of The Extreme Future [Sizzles With Kinetic Energy and Action] (Reader Review)
  • Rolling gives Kowalski his chance to be the hero and Kowalski comes through like a champ. The tricks he pulled to get the victim out of harms way reflected pure Rollins excitement that he builds into all of his novels. Fast paced, full of twists & turns, and hard to put down.

    Anton Giroux [Kowalski pulls through] (Reader Review)
  • Love me some Rollins! Great short story, believable action, and Kowalski driving a '79 Jeep CJ-7... How could it get any better?

    Cat T [Kowalski is the Man!] (Reader Review)
  • A fast paced novella that gives us additional information about Joe Kowalski. This one has a bit of everything you can imagine; a rescue of a researcher, computer hacking by unknowns, car chase through the streets of Washington DC, major gun shootout, a bit of science with Ancient DNA research. Yep, this 5 star Novella has it ALL! Well done Mr James Rollins! NOW, we want more

    Joseph Harris [5.0 out of 5 starsKowalski gets his star story!] (Reader Review)
  • This fast-paced short story gives readers additional information about the character of Joe Kowalski when he and Jason Carter have to rescue Dr. Sara Gutierrez. Car chases, Chinese hackers, gun fights, science... A perfect read when you only have a little time to "tune out."

    Cathy G. Cole [I need to get back to reading James Rollins!] (Reader Review)
  • Great short story ! Read this in one quick session. Love anything about DNA and have watched documentaries that said the same thing as the facts related in the story !

    Sue [Great short night adventure!] (Reader Review)
  • hooked on Rollins especially Tucker Wayne and Kane

    Carl L Rousseau [Five Stars] (Reader Review)
  • "The Midnight Watch is a wonderful amuse-bouche that delivers a tasty
    treat and wets the reader's appetite for the main course that is

    Jeff Ayers, Suspense Magazine


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