Publisher: Open Road Media
Source: Review copy
When Governor John White returns from England to the colony of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, in 1590 he finds it deserted. There isn’t a trace of anyone, including White’s own young granddaughter, the first English child born on these distant shores. In 1872, Captain John Moorhouse of the Dei Gratia comes across the Mary Celeste, adrift and abandoned in the Bay of Gibraltar. As The Tenth Circle steers to the present day, it soon becomes clear that whatever forces wiped colony and vessel clean of life is about to be unleashed again but this time there will be no limit to the devastation and catastrophe. Blaine McCracken, a special ops crisis fighter, is on the case and the clock is ticking.
The Tenth Circle is the eleventh novel in Jon Landis’s series to feature macho, now rather grey-haired McCracken, otherwise known as MacNuts to his teammates. By this stage of the series there is no need to hang about and so, as the book opens, McCracken manages to destroy single-handedly Iran’s nuclear weapons threat. With no time to waste, he then heads back to the US where another threat is endangering someone close to him. A series of terrorist attacks appears to be imitating men such as him, or women such as the dangerous assassin Zerrin, and it’s up to McCracken and Zerrin to end it.
The threat, which ties in to the historical mysteries of the opening, is not straightforward. On one hand, we have Reverend Jeremiah Rule, a religious zealot of the most evil kind. But there is more to it than that and it will take all of McCracken’s skills, not to mention the help of veterans of previous conflicts and wars as well as his own close group of combatants, to bring them down. Never far away is Zerrin, deadly assassin and maestro pianist.
The Tenth Circle started well, pulling me in with the evocative descriptions of the lost colony and drifting ship. Jon Landis can write very well. But I think because this is the first of the series I have read I was at a disadvantage. I didn’t know the background to the characters or their relationships. Instead, I was confronted with characters with almost no back history and no personality padding. What I did have was a selection of nicknames accompanied by defining characteristics – for example the giant native American Wareagle and the doped up, high as a kite Captain Seven. However, the characters without these traits were much harder to recall.
The novel pounds along at a tremendous pace, crashing through a hundred chapters at break neck speed. This meant that some scenes and characters were rushed by so quickly, I couldn’t keep up with them or remember them. I did enjoy the character of Blaine McCracken. Most of the novel is spent in his company and he’s likeable enough for this to have made me read the book through to the end. However, everything about Zerrin, though, is preposterous and I would have preferred The Tenth Circle without her in it.
All in all, The Tenth Circle is an unexceptional thriller on its own merits but it is targeted well and truly at the fans of the series which, after eleven books, must be many in number. Although it wasn’t for me, I do think think that if you enjoy no holds barred, all-out military action adventures, where superhuman heroes deal out just desserts to supremely evil baddies, then you may well find this a difficult thriller to put down at night.