“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”
This quote by the legendary Ralph Waldo Emerson opens the latest adventure in the Blaine McCracken series, THE TENTH CIRCLE. McCracken is fresh off a startling accomplishment in Iran where he single-handedly defused a nuclear arsenal intended for use against Israel.
There are two very real events that drive this novel. The first took place back in 1590 when an entire colony of British settlers vanished from the area known as Roanoke, Virginia. The only clue left behind was a carved word in a tree depicting the word Croatoan. Was this the name of the island for which the settlers departed, or is there another more sinister meaning behind this carving?
The second and more recent event surrounds fanatical Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who has a personal agenda against all Muslims. His last arrest occurred in Gainesville, FL, where he was thwarted in an attempt to burn multiple copies of the Koran. Specifically, he was found with 2,998 kerosene-soaked copies of the Muslim holy book intended for burning and symbolically representing the number of lives lost during the 9/11 tragedies.
"Jon Land has deftly woven an ingenious, timely and highly plausible thriller... a novel with very real horrors that will find readers constantly looking over their shoulders."
Jon Land has deftly woven an ingenious, timely and highly plausible thriller out of these two historical events. The lost colony of Roanoke has been a topic long covered in both film and literature, with each version attempting to find an answer for the mass disappearance. There has been everything from myth-busting nonfictional efforts to more speculative horror versions like the Dean Koontz novel PHANTOMS, which uses an ancient evil as the responsible party for devouring all the lost Roanoke souls.
Land comes up with a more scientific explanation and one that involves simple chemistry. The Indian tribes in the Roanoke area refer to a substance known as White Death, which, when combined with water, has explosive properties that could virtually evaporate all those within its blast range.
This White Death has fallen into the hands of a very bad man known as the Reverend Jeremiah Rule, and his agenda is the utter defeat of all Muslims on the planet. With mere Koran burning not having the desired end result, Rule has a much larger scheme. His Koran burning is an attempt to cover up alleged Muslim terrorist attacks on the U.S. In actuality, Rule --- with the backing of certain high-ranking government and military officials --- are planning to fake these attacks in order to bring about a war against the Muslims. It may take the release of White Death upon Washington, D.C. to make this deadly point.
It is up to Blaine McCracken and his cohorts to infiltrate Rule's group and uncover the members of the U.S. government who are funding his efforts. It will be a race against the clock to successfully complete this mission as no one is able to locate the barrels of White Death, and the intended strike point --- the nation's capital during the President's State of the Union address --- is right around the corner. It will take an unlikely pairing with a Muslim assassin for McCracken to have a chance of thwarting this overwhelming and deadly attack.
Jon Land has once again turned up the fires on the current paranoia that has marked our existence each day following the 9/11 attacks. We now live in a world where our enemy may wear a friendly face, and the ability to defeat them is made that much more difficult. THE TENTH CIRCLE refers to the new circle of hell to which Reverend Rule intends to send all Muslims, and is a novel with very real horrors that will find readers constantly looking over their shoulders. As a paperback original and eBook, it represents an incredible bargain and a huge payoff based on the thrills it provides from cover to cover.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 17, 2014