Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

Book Description

Blaine McCracken races to stop terrorists from unleashing an ancient weapon of unimaginable power at the president’s State of the Union speech

Blaine McCracken pulled off the impossible on a mission in Iran, but his work has just begun. Returning to the US, he faces another terrible threat in the form of Reverend Jeremiah Rule, whose hateful rhetoric has inflamed half the world, resulting in a series of devastating terrorist attacks. But Rule isn’t acting alone. A shadowy cabal is pulling his strings, unaware that they are creating a monster who will soon spin free of their control.

Finding himself a wanted man, McCracken must draw on skills and allies both old and new to get to the heart of a plot aimed at unleashing no less than the tenth circle of hell. A desperate chase takes him into the past, where the answers he needs are hidden amid two of history’s greatest puzzles: the lost colony of Roanoke and the Mary Celeste. As the clock ticks down to an unthinkable maelstrom, McCracken and his trusty sidekick, Johnny Wareagle, must save the United States from a war the country didn’t know it was fighting, and that it may well lose.

About the Author

Since his first book was published in 1983, Jon Land has written twenty-eight novels, seventeen of which have appeared on national bestseller lists. He began writing technothrillers before Tom Clancy put them in vogue, and his strong prose, easy characterization, and commitment to technical accuracy have made him a pillar of the genre.

Land spent his college years at Brown University, where he convinced the faculty to let him attempt writing a thriller as his senior honors thesis. Four years later, his first novel, The Doomsday Spiral, appeared in print. In the last years of the Cold War, he found a place writing chilling portrayals of threats to the United States, and of the men and women who operated undercover and outside the law to maintain U.S. security. His most successful of those novels were the nine starring Blaine McCracken, a rogue CIA agent and former Green Beret with the skills of James Bond but none of the Englishman's tact.

In 1998 Land published the first novel in his Ben and Danielle series, comprised of fast-paced thrillers whose heroes, a Detroit cop and an Israeli detective, work together to protect the Holy Land, falling in love in the process. He has written seven of these so far. The most recent, The Last Prophecy, was released in 2004.

Recently, RT Book Reviews gave Jon a special prize for pioneering genre fiction, and his short story "Killing Time" was shortlisted for the 2010 Dagger Award for best short fiction and included in 2010's The Best American Mystery Stories. Land is currently writing Blood Strong, his fourth novel to feature Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong--a female hero in a genre which, Land has said, has too few of them. The second book in the series, Strong Justice (2010), was named a Top Thriller of the Year by Library Journal and runner-up for Best Novel of the Year by the New England Book Festival. The third, Strong at the Break, will be released this year, and the fourth, Blood Strong, will follow in 2012. His first nonfiction book, Betrayal, written with Robert Fitzpatrick, tells the behind-the-scenes story of a deputy FBI chief attempting to bring down Boston crime lord Whitey Bulger, and will also be released in 2011.
Land currently lives in Providence, not far from his alma mater.

Book Readers Review

This is the first of Jon Land's books I have read but will not be the last one.  The Tenth Circle is number eleven in the Blaine McCracken series.  In this novel McCracken races to stop terrorists from unleashing an ancient weapon of unimaginable power at the presidents State of the Union speech.  Land has achieved a blend of history, mystery, thriller, action, and mythical in his book.  The story is fast paced and definitely needs an active mind to keep up with the events.  At times I found myself having to go back in the story to review a few of the characters.  They were presented at the start and dropped out of sight until near the end.  That was a minor frustration.

Jon Land can hook the reader at once with links between past and present.  These raise questions that can only be answered by continued reading.  I like the shorter chapters and the first half of the book kept me moving forward at good pace.  Then I found my interest wavering a little. The pace slowed and the action stretched out too much.  But I was glad when Land picked up the speed of the events that kept my attention to the end.  I would recommend The Tenth Circle for those who enjoy an action thriller with a twist.  Be warned, the book is long at five hundred or so pages!
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley.

Book Details and Purchase
Title: The Tenth Circle (Blaine McCracken #11)
Author: Jon Land
Genre: mystery, thriller
Publisher: Open Road Media
Available Formats: paperback, e-book Release date: December 17, 2013
Provided by: Jon Land (c/o)
Buy the book: Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Story behind the Story

History of  a Mystery

The books ‘Ladies of Class’ and ‘The Poison Pen’ written by Marjorie Owen are set in the town of ‘Burshill, Sussex’.  Marjorie lived in Burgess Hill, Sussex for many years and we believe she used the location for the settings of both books.  In ‘Ladies of Class’, Marjorie’s first murder mystery novel, the initial murder happened on St.John’s Common or Park, located off Lower Church Road.  Marjorie lived in a flat on Lower Church Road over looking St. John’s Common.  We can only surmise that her inspiration for writing ‘Ladies of Class’ came from her location and view of the Common.  

Laura Clayton was one of the key ‘Ladies’ in Marjorie’s book and as history shows Clayton was one of the parishes where Burgess Hill originated.  Perhaps Marjorie was aware of this when choosing Laura’s last name.  Detective Sergeant Findon from Burshill Police is Detective Chief Inspector Richard Hayward’s second in command. It is told in history that: “From the fourteenth century or earlier the annual Midsummer Fair was held on this common land on 24 June: the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist. The last such sheep and lamb fair was held in 1913. This sheep and lamb fair was the first of the year in Sussex, and there was much interest. It is said that farmers from as far afield as Hastings to the east and Findon to the west visited, and at its peak, more than 9000 lambs were sold at the fair, together with numerous horses, cattle and sheep.
 According to the history below Burgess Hill town was known as St. John’s Common until the nineteenth century. Burgess Hill originated in the parishes of Clayton, Keymer and Ditchling - all of them mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The town's name comes from the Burgeys family when the name John Burgeys appeared in the tax rolls. The name of Burgeys stood for 'bourgeois', the inhabitant of a borough. By the Elizabethan period a community had established itself and many buildings dating from this era still stand. 

Although a Roman road, the London to Brighton Way was built connecting London to the South coast and passing through what is now Burgess Hill, there is no evidence that the Romans settled. Burgess Hill—now a town of about 30,000 people—did not exist until the mid-19th century, when the London and Brighton Railway built a railway line across St John's Common, an area of common land divided between the parishes of Clayton and Keymer.[1][2] The line and Burgess Hill railway station opened in 1841, and rapid population growth led to the building of an Anglican church, St John the Evangelist's, in the early 1860s and the creation of an ecclesiastical parish in 1863.[2][3]
Marjorie travelled daily on the London to Brighton Railway line from her home in Burgess Hill to her place of employment in central London.  Her career as a buyer for a large department store was long and interesting.  She specialized in clothing and many of her clients were famous, some of whom were members of the English Royal Family.  

 ‘The Poison Pen’, Marjorie’s second and last book in the Detective Chief Inspector Richard Hayward series, is set in a department store called ‘Wall’s’.  According to the history of the area one of the most important early residents was Frederick Hoadley.  In 1857, in an area now known as either 'the top of the town', or Hoadley's Corner, the Hoadley family of Heathfield established a large department store, of which the original building still stands, on the corner of Station Road and Junction Road. This successful business also had branches at nearby Ditchling, and Seaford too, but it was in Burgess Hill that the head offices were based. Perhaps Hoadley’s department store was Marjorie’s inspiration for ‘Wall’s’, the store in her story.  The history of Hoadley’s and her own experience working in a department store in London could have been a major influence in the writing of ‘The Poison Pen’.

We can see some significant correlations between Marjorie’s life history and that of the area she spent a significant number of years of her life.  Although she was married with a son, Marjorie had an ‘attachment’ to the Royal Air Force. She had romantic meetings with one or two members of the RAF.  Although details of these assignations are a little sketchy, one, of note, was Guy Gibson of the famous “Dam Busters Raid” in May of 1943.  Marjorie had been given a beautiful diamond pin of RAF wings from one of her lovers and a cigarette case that may even have been Guy Gibson’s.
The history tells that on 12 July 1944 a Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire fighter crashed at Greenlands Farm, off the Keymer Road, killing the Belgian pilot. Keymer is identified as one of the parishes of St John's Common.  Perhaps we are stretching the connections to the history of the area a little far here.  But Marjorie wrote of her relationships and loves of the RAF pilots in her diary, which was discovered on her death.
Marjorie’s life is a mystery.  She was a very private person as evidenced by not telling anyone of her writings, not even her son.   She had made a promise to her son she would write about her life on his last visit before she passed away.  Unfortunately she was taken into hospital and died the day after his visit and had not recorded her life history.
All historical references regarding the town and details of the area are taken from,_Burgess_Hill

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