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The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

The Tenth Circle Reviewed by Russell Ilg

The stranger retrieved the phone and handed it back to McCracken. “My advice: keep this handy in case you need to call 9-1-1.”

“I am 9-1-1,” McCracken told him.

I’m not sure there’s ever been in a line in a modern thriller that better encapsulates the spirit of a book and enduring series hero than that from Jon Land’s latest mind-number The Tenth Circle. In the second installment of their resurrection, after last year’s bestselling Pandora’s Temple, Blaine McCracken and his equally bigger-than-life sidekick Johnny Wareagle are on the trail of a crazed preacher with eyes on unleashing a biblical-level Apocalypse. The Reverend Jeremiah Rule has a weapon in his possession rooted in not just the past, but in two of the greatest historical mysteries of all time, posing the question what if the mass disappearance of the Roanoke Colony and ghost ship the Mary Celeste were connected?

What if, indeed. Nobody speaks the two greatest words in the thriller lexicon better than Jon Land. He continues to keep us guessing on every page, now adding McCracken’s annual return to his yearly Caitlin Strong installment. But there’s something even more special about watching, and listening, to Blaine and Johnny work. Age has not taken anything away from these two battle-hardened warriors with Vietnam pedigrees who the government can call upon when no one else picks up the phone.

Right out of today’s headlines comes a story that is real in every since of the word, propelling McCracken and Wareagle on a mission to find a weapon so deadly that just a small whiff is enough to kill tens of thousands of people while toppling the government. What if, remember?† It took all the resolve I could muster to stop from flipping ahead to the final pages to see how McCracken was going to foil a government conspiracy somehow involving an outlaw motorcycle gang and wing-nut religious whack job. And that’s the thing. Jeremiah Rule isn’t a Bond-like villain with unlimited resources and armies to do his bidding. He has weaponized words to unleash a nuclear-level firestorm across the world, a perfect bookend to the book’s opening sequence that finds McCracken and company in Iran succeeding where the rest of the world has failed.

From its classic opening to its stunning conclusion, The Tenth Circle is as close to a perfect thriller as you will ever read. It takes you in its grasp and hits you right between the eyes with a wrecking ball of intense, thrill-filled action. On top of that, it’s also a cautionary tale about the capacity of a single man to light the world on fire and the loner hero who acts as fireman to put it out. A wake-up call in more ways than one, since that’s what you’re going to need the day after you start reading it.

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