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Sigma Force #10.5

The Midnight Watch

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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.

59 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 3, 2015

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About the author

James Rollins

99 books12.5k followers
James Rollins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers. His writing has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold more than 20 million books. The New York Times says, “Rollins is what you might wind up with if you tossed Michael Crichton and Dan Brown into a particle accelerator together.” NPR calls his work, “Adventurous and enormously engrossing.” Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets matched with stunning suspense. As a veterinarian, he had a practice in Sacramento for over a decade and still volunteers at local shelters. Nowadays, Rollins shares his home up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with his two golden retrievers, Echo and Duncan. He also enjoys scuba diving, spelunking, kayaking, and hiking. Of course, he loves to travel and experience new places around the world, which often inspire his next globe-trotting adventure.

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5 stars
1,181 (34%)
4 stars
1,248 (36%)
3 stars
816 (23%)
2 stars
143 (4%)
1 star
50 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 191 reviews
Profile Image for James.
Author 17 books3,479 followers
December 6, 2022
Enjoyed the countdown/timing of each section, as it amped up the suspense. I'm midway thru the series and reading the short stories this week to get back into the characters before I finish the whole collection this summer.
Profile Image for Rizwan Khalil.
318 reviews492 followers
December 10, 2016
Whoa, that was a hell of a lot of fun in such short span! This is a short story that covered just an hour from the usual work day of our favorite Sigma Force, and it didn't skip any legwork to give us the full blast of energy and entertainment in so little space.

In the sudden (midnight) hour of need, director Painter Crowe had no other agents available (such as our regular heroes Grey Pierce or Monk Kokkalis), but only the one who from the first time he appeared in the pages of Sigma series to the very last time, had become a permanent and significant part of Sigma family (and books), but for some reason never ever took a central stage or even got a point-of-view perspective... until now: Joe frekkin' Kowalski. At last Rollins gave him a deservingly central role in his own mission, and Kowalski showed in flying colors what he can do given the chance, and then some! He was a personal favorite character of mine who I always thought was more than meets the eye as he tried to appear in front of everyone (including his teammates) as just simpleminded and thickheaded, but the readers long suspected to have a hidden twinkle of brains and cleverness as well as the usual brawn and muscles. This time Rollins finally unleashed him in full force, and oh my God I was easily having so much more fun in these handfull of pages than I had in all of the disappointing last full-length novel of the series! Action, gunfights, thrilling foot chase, some more car chase, nailbiting suspense, blistering pace, blood-pumping 'Hell YEAH!' moments... it had everything.

And Rollins, being the vintage Rollins who's in a whole other level than any other Action-Adventure authors of our time, never forgot to also add a layer of quiet character development and some much needed depths even in this short period to the character of Kowalski that made him more sympathetic, relatable, lovable, and most of all humane to the reader, all the while literally being on the run! At the end of this little tale, even though there were a couple of thick dangling threads in the current mystery that we didn't get to solve (but which I'm sure will spill directly into the next full length novel of the series The Bone Labyrinth), I can't help but feel immensely satisfied and also a twinge of genuine sadness for the heartbroken Kowalski, hoping that in the near future we'll get to enjoy a lot of more Kowalski as a central character in the series.

Painter rubbed his chin, appreciating the quick wits and skill involved in pulling off that takedown. He sensed that there remained unplumbed depths to that driver. He even allowed himself to consider an impossible proposition.
Maybe it’s high time I gave Kowalski his own mission.

Amen to that brother!
Profile Image for Chad.
7,295 reviews853 followers
January 5, 2021
Nice little short story featuring Kowalski crashing headlong through an adventure with computer expert Jason Carter. This leads into Bone Labyrinth.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,223 reviews394 followers
October 22, 2016
Basically, a few chapters teaser for his next book. Dull. Starring Joe Kowalski, Rollins failed to provide much more than an update on his failed romance, rather than more development of his character. C'mon, rebuilding a Jeep is not much insight. Don't pay for this and don't bother.
Profile Image for Su Ann.
28 reviews
November 4, 2015
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!
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,289 reviews263 followers
August 14, 2020
3.5 Stars

The Midnight Watch was an enjoyable, fast-paced short story centered around a midnight attack.

Shortly after midnight, an unknown enemy hacks into the Smithsonian Institution’s servers. Sigma analyst Jason Carter manages to stop the attack, but not before the hacker's steal files related to an Ancient DNA project. Thwarted in their initial attack, the enemy goes after the source of the files, Dr. Sara Gutierrez. With time running out to save Sara, Sigma sends in its closest operative, Joe Kowalski.

This story is very short at just under 60 pages, but the author manages to pack a lot of action into its short pages. Kowalski is one of my favorite characters in the Sigma Force series, so I was happy he got his moment to shine here. Kowalski is unorthodox compared to a lot of the members of Sigma, but his ability to improvise definitely helps keep him alive. After locating Sara, Kowalski and Carter are chased by unknown assailants determined to stop their escape. There's a great chase scene in the story and I loved Kowalski's method of evading their pursuers. The ending at the National Zoo was great with a wonderful scene involving a tiger. My only complaint about the story is that I wish it had been a bit longer as there wasn't a lot of time to delve into the who and why behind the attack.

Overall The Midnight Watch was a quick, suspenseful read and I would definitely recommend it to fans of the series.
Profile Image for Nancy.
413 reviews
November 4, 2015
Finally Kowalski got his own story - even if it is a very short one. Granted that I am a Rollins fan and Kowalski is one of my favorites on the Sigma team, I totally enjoyed this little story. If you know the Washington DC area, especially the Smithsonian and National Zoo, this is fun because you can easily picture what is going on. Besides Kowalski is just a big lovable lug - a very manly man who gets the job done (although he often just blows up the obstacles in his path)and takes care of his friends. As hard as he is on the outside, he has a soft heart. I hope to see more of a role for him in the future. Thank you to James Rollins!
Profile Image for itchy.
1,592 reviews25 followers
September 23, 2021
p10: Kowalski accepted the huge revolver with a grin. The rubberized grip fit his meaty palm perfectly. "A .50 caliber Desert Eagle."

p15: Kowalski showed the Desert Eagle back into his belt and followed the others up the cement stairs.

It looks like Joe's gonna kick ass real soon.
Profile Image for Pierre Tassé.
433 reviews24 followers
April 2, 2017
A VERY short story. Not sure if it was worth the money. Rollins must be trying to introduce two items (it seems) with this story. I will find out as I progress to the next book in his series.
Profile Image for Chip Daly.
34 reviews
November 3, 2015
Can't wait to see where this goes with Kowalski? Nice teaser to him getting his own assignment for Sigma in the future! Nice teaser at the end for The Bone Labyrinth as well. Really looking forward to that coming out!
6 reviews1 follower
November 4, 2015
Great thanks to James Rollins

Always a 5 star rating for sigma..this was a definite teaser...can't wait for the bone labyrinth...preordered and anticipating another great adventure!
Profile Image for هادی امینی.
Author 24 books82 followers
April 3, 2018
به عنوان یک داستان کوتاه خوب بود.
بیشتر شروعی بود برای قسمت بعدی.
Profile Image for Robert.
3,397 reviews18 followers
August 10, 2020
More a deleted chapter of book 11 than a short story (a sin all to common with these inter-novel shorts written as teasers), but still a fun read.
Profile Image for Lizabeth Tucker.
851 reviews12 followers
December 21, 2016
When someone hacks into the Smithsonian computer system, Sigma's chief intelligence analyst Jason Carter quickly shuts it down, but not before a hefty number of files are grabbed. Jason discovers that the target was a Smithsonian research project called "Ancient DNA" and the files belong to Dr.Sara Gutierrez. While notifying Sara of the breach, Jason realizes that she is in danger. Director Crowe sends Jason and Joe Kowalski, his only immediately available agents, to her rescue.

I love Joe, so any time he makes an appearance, I'm thrilled, even if Painter isn't. And who wouldn't want to pet a tiger, if the opportunity arose? I've only pet and played with cougars, wolves, and coyotes, so I wouldn't turn that chance down. This is a setup for the next book in the series, so Rollins has provided a fast rescue and some immediate danger, but no answers as yet. And perhaps a greater appreciation for Kowalski by Painter! 4 out of 5.
Profile Image for Candace Salima.
Author 6 books38 followers
April 7, 2016
James Rollins never disappoints, except the story was entirely too short ... which is, I guess, why it's called a short story. James Rollins books always end too soon, in my opinion. I read it on the plane on my way to Washington, D.C. and it seriously was not long enough. The Midnight Watch is no different.

It's the Chinese hackers ... of course. China spend all its time hacking into American interests. But this time, they hacked into a scientists ancient DNA archive. With Sigma Force's chief intelligence analyst, Joe Kowalski goes to rescue the scientist and find out what the Chinese were after, and why. Dr. Sara Gutierrez was working with ancient DNA studying genetic variability in species over time. Thrown in a cranky Siberian White Tiger and you have all the makings of a James Rollins novel.

We never did find out why the Chinese wanted that research, but there is a surprise at the end that should perk you up.

James Rollins gets four stars for this short story ... again, it just wasn't long enough. I'm not a fan of short stories, and I never have been, but I'll read anything by James Rollins. He's one of my favorite authors, bar none.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
979 reviews87 followers
June 17, 2017
The Midnight Watch (Sigma Force #10.5) by James Rollins
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.

What did I think of it
5 stars
But then again his books always five stars for me, there's something about his style that I just love and that why his one of my 2 all time favorites authors , can't wait to pick up the next book after this one which I have to get back into the series. if you haven't read anything by him then you need to check him out .
Profile Image for Lisbet.
87 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2017
I normally enjoy this series, but I also enjoy reading a story with a beginning middle and end, which this didn't have. I rated it a 2, but seriously debated giving it a 1, since if felt like the author had published this as a way to get people to pay for looking at the advertisement for his next book..

This is clearly just a precursor to the next story. We won't find out who the bad guys are or what their motive is until the next book. That makes this the first few chapters in a novel, not a stand alone novella. I'm glad I borrowed this from the library, rather than paid $ for it.
Profile Image for Albert.
1,422 reviews33 followers
February 19, 2016
The Midnight Watch is a terrific short story of the Sigma Force that sets the groundwork for the novel The Bone Labyrinth. What makes this short story so cool and worth the read is that it doesn't include most of the normal cast of Sigma Force and instead concentrates on the often lesser used member Kowalski.

As always Rollins keeps the action and story tight and rolling along at breakneck speed.

A terrific short read!
Profile Image for Dave Van Es.
48 reviews2 followers
November 8, 2018
It was going so well, but then it stopped so suddenly without finishing the story (told in the next novel in the series). It was not self contained which I found disappointing.

On the bright side Kawasaki, was really really funny and did not have to revert back to his foul, and blasphemous,language tirades to get his point across.

I liked it, but it really needed 10-15 more pages to finish off the story.
3 stars
Profile Image for Jim.
187 reviews4 followers
August 15, 2018
This one's a short story that's 99% action of various degrees of silliness and perhaps 1% plot advancement in terms of the SIGMA series as a whole. It's a quick read, but there's nothing here that's compelling enough to make it required reading for anyone other than the complete-ists out there like myself. My main takeaway was that SIGMA's resident computer expert really needs to make locking down a computer a weeeeeeee bit more of a priority than he did in this one. On multiple occasions.
Profile Image for Kasey.
111 reviews3 followers
January 17, 2016
Man, do I love Kowalski. He has so much depth that we haven't even gotten to explore yet. I'm hoping this little show of his quick wits (and Painter's newfound appreciation for him) means he won't be treated as much like a joke anymore.
Profile Image for Aaron Cochrill.
73 reviews1 follower
March 27, 2016
I love these half books, I just wished they weren't so hard to track down! This is a quick-paced action short story that really opens up the character of Kowalski. If gives us a much deeper insight to who he is and his background with Sigma. This short story like the rest, doesn't disappoint.
Profile Image for Julie Carter.
785 reviews6 followers
November 4, 2015
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!
Profile Image for Louisa.
6,692 reviews27 followers
December 23, 2015
Man, awesome short story, and I can't wait to see how the questions will be answered about human intelligence, as well as who wanted the information!
455 reviews
May 25, 2020
Enemies hack into the Smithsonian Institution’s network of servers late at night. It’s never clear if they meant to tap into the hidden files of Sigma or it was an accident. They want information from the National Museum of Natural History’s database. But when Sigma contacts the lone biologist working so late, they realize that she is in danger and she is trapped in her office.
It’s Joe Kowalski to the rescue. Once he rescues Dr. Sara Gutierrez, there is a wild chase through the city with armed motorcyclists.
When they make it to Sigma Force headquarters, they learn she is working on a project dealing with ancient DNA and can’t imagine what they want. When Sigma’s favorite hacker tries to use her code to pull the information from the Server, the enemy directs it to their flash drive.
Sigma’s hacker opens all the locks so Kowalski can return to the museum, get that flash drive, eliminate the hackers and avoid the Siberian White Tiger since opening the locks also opens his cage.
I didn’t understand the low reviews because it was a short story. That’s clearly noted on the book cover – Amazon even gives you the number of pages. Since the problem isn't solved after the rescue that usually means more to come in another book in the series for these characters.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 191 reviews

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