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Book review: 'The Tenth Circle' by Jon Land

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Jon Land's 'The Tenth Circle'

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews The Tenth Circle (Open Road Media, $16.99) by Jon Land.

Now available in stores and online, The Tenth Circle is Land’s thirteenth novel to feature aging operative Blaine McCracken—and the second for Open Road Integrated Media following Pandora’s Temple (2012), which allowed the author to resurrect his venerable protagonist and subsequently won the 2013 International Book Award for Best Adventure Thriller. Land also writes a series for the same publisher featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, the most recent of which, Strong Rain Falling, was released last summer.

Land’s newest thriller opens with two seemingly disparate historical mysteries: the inexplicable disappearance of an entire colony of British settlers from Roanoke Island in 1590 and the discovery of the freighter Mary Celeste off the coast of Gibraltar in 1872, its crew gone missing without a trace. Of course, McCracken, just back in domestic territory after pulling off a heroic mission in Iran, begins to suspect a connection between the two events—one that has profoundly disturbing implications …

Yet another complication is the Reverend Jeremiah Rule, whose inflammatory rhetoric has inspired a series of terrorist attacks throughout the country—including one that resonates on a personal level with McCracken. Rule is but the figurehead of a much larger enemy that has its sights set on the very seat of the government in a sinister plot that’s both ingenious in its inception and frighteningly plausible. As past and present threaten to collide in a maelstrom of violence and destruction, the line between friend and foe is drawn in shades of grey. Fortunately, McCracken has his trusty allies Johnny Wareagle and Sal Belamo (along with an enigmatic newcomer by the name of Zarrin) to pledge their allegiance against the handlers of a weapon of mass destruction unlike any known to mankind.

The Tenth Circle is yet another tautly woven and brazenly told tale from Land, who knows how to provoke thought without sacrificing action or entertainment. (The possibility of a country secretly at war with itself is not so much a novel idea as it is an inevitability.) Further, McCracken’s increasingly introspective moments add a welcome emotional depth to this ever-evolving series, which works in humanizing the character and making him vulnerable to warfare of the heart. That Land writes with cinematic savvy ensures that the book’s nail-biter of a conclusion unfolds with an absolute and unrelenting sense of urgency.

Pity the fool who dares to think that aging is anything but an asset—at least when it comes to saving the world from the largely unforeseen forces that threaten its very existence. Blaine McCracken is an unapologetic badass, and readers will revel in his adventures (and misadventures) with as much zeal as he clearly does. Jon Land is a master at crafting thrillers that are immediately relevant yet timeless in appeal, and The Tenth Circle is the proof …

***

With thanks to the author for providing a review copy of The Tenth Circle.

If you missed HBE’s “Between the lines” interview with Jon Land, read it here.

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