The Skeleton Key: A Short Story Exclusive
Released On: May 31, 2011

Seichan is ripped out of the Sigma series for an adventure all her own—but can she survive? The beautiful and elusive assassin wakes in a hotel in Paris with a deadly electronic collar fastened to her throat.

From the New York Times, bestselling author James Rollins comes a thrilling short story that delves deep beneath the city of Paris to a dark necropolis, where the only means for escape is…The Skeleton Key.

*The Short Story The Skeleton Key now available in the omnibus “Unrestricted Access: New and Classic Short Fiction and is also included in the paperback edition of The Devil Colony.

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Critical Acclaim

  • I have read all of the Sigma Series by James Rollins except for one of his short stories. They are great books. My husband even likes them because they move very quickly.

    Mollee Puckett [reat short story] (Reader Review)
  • As usual Rollins writes a thrilling story filled with intriguing facts as well as fiction. The way he ties so many side line activities into one final revelation is uniquely done. I gave this short story 4 stars because it stopped; leaving me hanging. It was probably done on purpose so that I have search for the next book to continue the drama.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in research of any kind with a lot of mystery and danger thrown in to make it all more captivating.

    Sharon Flores [The Skeleton Key] (Reader Review)
  • Enjoyed the book and the end came too quickly. Look forward to more of his work in the future. Really liked it

    Betty Bowerma [Suspenseful] (Reader Review)
  • I could not put it down until I finished. I love all the different situations and how they all come together to complete the story.

    Tammie Jett [The So we let on Key] (Reader Review)
  • First of all this is a great read, no doubt about it, second, Seichan rocks as a character on the Sigma Force series, she is 100% adrenaline and action, smart and fearless. Great short story and a must read to know more about this character. Well done James.

    Canthama [Seichan rocks, pure action in Paris, excellent fun.] (Reader Review)
  • This is a new genre for me. Historical as well as thrilling, factual and entertaining. I also prefer the series format of storytelling. Like meeting an old friend and catching up.

    joan Garcia [Like meeting an old friend and catching up} (Reader Review)
  • Seichan wakes up after being knocked out or drugged and then the action starts. This wily assassin is up against time as well as a plot to blow up much of Paris. Good action, suspense and some thrilling fight scenes. This is an enjoyable story.

    George Cox [Seichan in Paris] (Reader Review)
  • Wonderfully imaginative and joyful stories of magic and fun in the westerly part of Ireland. These tales are created by a gentle hand in the mists of Irish lore.

    Helen Williamson [Tales From Balladhoon] (Reader Review)
  • This was a fun ride through the depth of Paris catacombs. Rollins always delivers a fast paced thriller and this is no different. Good time reading this short.

    Josh Garcia [Fun ride] (Reader Review)
  • Seichan awakens with a knife at her throat. She's in a strange bed, in an unknown room, and the muffled voices beyond the door are speaking French. Seichan has "no home, no country. She had been recruited to discover the true puppet masters of the Guild."

    She had been drugged and could still feel the effects. Her Sauer pistol was still in its shoulder holster. Her fingers searched and found a pin sized keyhole under her right ear. The Place Vendome was outside, so logically, she had to be inside the Paris Ritz Hotel.

    She soon learns that Renny MacLeod, a skinny eighteen year old, wearing a stainless steel collar is in the bathroom. Beautiful, elusive assassin, Seichan ventures into the infamous catacombs of Paris. Surrounded by moldering bones of the dead and dust of the centuries, she must fight for survival.

    International thrillers are the daily manna of James Rollins. Fast action thrills, key-punch delivery and abundant historical facts pepper The Skeleton Key. A short read, but when we have skeletons stacked like firewood, who needs any more?

    Joyce Metzger [Fast Paced] (Reader Review)
  • Rollins gives the Seichan character a short story of her own. I have enjoyed her character and the tension between Gray and her character. The story is well developed and a quick read. I recommend it.

    Casey Wheeler [Seichan's Short Story] (Reader Review)
  • I was turned on to the Sigma Force series by some colleagues who raved about the books. I was burned out on reading after completing graduate work and two years of additional reading for further training. I had stopped going to bookstores which are like my places for Zen and did not want to read anything. This series was a perfect fit for me as it weaved historical and scientific fact with fascinating fiction. I am currently reading The Devil Colony in this series and my mind is blown by its intrigue. I highly recommend reading this book but be sure you start with the very beginning of the series.

    Brian Wilson [Can't stop reading it.] (Reader Review)
  • Really peaks my mind to read his writings, love the way he writes. can't get enough of his writings, want more and am glad he keeps coming out with more. Keeping up the great style of writing.

    dj brown [great short by Rollins, AAA+++] (Reader Review)
  • Another great book by Rollins but if your planning to read The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel don't buy it b/c it's all in The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel.

    Jimmy Davidson [super read] (Reader Review)
  • I found Mr. Rollins quite by accident at a bookstore down the Jersey shore looking for summer reading. With his mix of fiction, fact, history and science I quickly became a big fan (full disclosure). I was not sure what to expect from a short story by him, but I was presently surprised. The storyline was developed quickly, nice action, some history and science to be investigated more fully later and a bit of a surprise twist at the end. It blends very well as the lead-in for the Devil Colony (which I am currently reading), and it adds to the tension between Seichan and Gray. Once I am done with these, I will be heading directly into Tracker and then Bloodline. After that, I am going to read some earlier books from Mr. Rollins since I am relatively new to his work.

    If you are looking for fiction that blends nicely into the legends and facts of the real world, and enjoy action and global destinations then this will be a nice start for you. Hope this helps. Thanks.

    JAF3 [Nice background story on Seichan leading to Devil Colony] (Reader Review)
  • This is a well done precursor to The Devil Colony, one featuring no Sigma, no Gray, no Painter...Just Seichan and a small supporting cast. I have to admit that after the last several novels I found myself getting a bit burned out on the Sigma Force novels but this Seichan solo adventure is short and sweet and very entertaining.

    As usual Rollins mixes geographical and historical facts in with his high octane fiction. It's always interesting to see his footnotes as to what's real and what isn't and he doesn't leave that out in this short and sweet adventure.

    I read this AFTER reading the Devil Colony but even so it was fun to see Seichan on her own and see what exactly she got up to prior to the events that unfold in The Devil Colony. Kudos to Rollins for giving the fans a story revolving completely around this complex and intriguing character. Definitely leaves you wanting more Seichan!

    Matthew Schiariti [Seichan goes solo] (Reader Review)
  • I fully admit a healthy interest in Seichan. Heck, she fascinates me. So when James Rollins tweeted that a new ebook short would feature her, I knew I'd love it. The story did not disappoint! While Mr. Rollins shines in huge adventure epics, he proves he can write a tightly plotted short as well. This short sucked me in and I'm so thrilled he offered it as a launch for Devil Colony!

    The story starts out in Seichan's POV and I feel that throughout, the reader has gotten to know her better. We see how she operates, both in the good and very calculating. Paris is a co-star in this story, especially the famed catacombs, and the minor character shines. Mr. Rollins knows how to bring even the most minor characters to vibrant life.

    Bring on Devil Colony!

    Breezy [Seichan takes center stage] (Reader Review)
  • Seichan is a great character and you never really know what she will do next. The Skeleton Key was a great short story and as always with James Rollins you can count on a lot of action and history built into the story. I really enjoy the Sigma Series and can't wait for the new book.

    Amazon Customer [5.0 out of 5 starsSeichan is one tough girl!] (Reader Review)


  • Q. Did you face any unexpected challenges when fitting Sigma Force characters and a thrilling plotline into a shorter format?
    A. It was a daunting task. I think my mind is too wired to think of “story” in a longer format. To ... Read More
  • Q. Do you have a favorite Sigma Force character, one whose point of view you especially enjoy writing?
    A. I enjoy writing them all. Each has their own unique flare: Gray’s intensity, Kowalski’s humor, M ... Read More
  • Q. Do you plan to write more Sigma Force short stories?
    A. In one word: yes. To tell more would ruin the fun. ... Read More
  • Q. The Skeleton Key follows the adventures of Seichan alone, as she is separated from the rest of Sigma Force. Why did you decide to feature Seichan’s point of view?
    A. I always wanted to feature her in a solo adventure. Being a loner, she was perfectly suited for her ... Read More
  • Q. What did you find most interesting or surprising to learn as you mapped out the plot to The Skeleton Key?
    A. I think it was how fragile those catacombs are. A cave-in back in 1961 swallowed up an entire Parisi ... Read More
  • Q. Why did you decide to write a Sigma Force short story? How does writing a short story vs. a novel differ?
    A. A couple of years ago, I wrote a Sigma short story, titled Kowalski’s in Love It appeared in an an ... Read More
  • Q. Without giving away any secrets, will Seichan—and the answers she finds in The Skeleton Key—have a major part to play in the upcoming Sigma Force novel The Devil Colony?
    A. Indeed. What she discovers in Paris is vital to the plot of the The Devil Colony. It will begin to e ... Read More
  • Q. You write in your author’s note that the apocalyptic cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, really existed. How did you stumble across this in your research, and what made you decide to feature it in a short story?
    A. I wish I could say there was some mysterious connection, but it was basically Google. I researched v ... Read More


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