“This was the way he wanted it, the way he did it best. Up close and personal, as all wars from time immemorial ended one way or another.” *
This is the eleventh book in a series. This review contains no spoilers for previous books, aside from giving away the survival of two characters.
The Tenth Circle, by Jon Land
#11 in the Blaine McCracken series
Open Road Integrated Media, December 2013
348 pages (ebook)
1590: An entire colony of British settlers vanishes from their settlement on Roanoke Island, seemingly into thin air.
1872: The freighter Mary Celeste is found drifting at sea off Gibraltar, its entire crew and passengers gone missing without a trace.
What if there’s a connection between two of the greatest historical mysteries ever?
That’s the question facing Blaine McCracken in the wake of pulling off the impossible in Iran. McCracken has rid the world of one terrible threat only to return home to face another 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 across country and continent takes him into the past, where the answers he needs are hidden with the missing Roanoke colonists and among the contents of the Mary Celeste’s cargo holds. 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, but that it might well lose.
*** I requested this review copy through NetGalley. ***
I really have to stop requesting books that are part of a series. I used to have a strict rule against picking up a series in the middle, and NetGalley has muddled that a bit. It’s just so easy to read an interesting description and hit request. But I usually end up disappointed, and then I have no idea if it’s because I honestly didn’t like the book, or I’m just at a disadvantage because I’m not already invested in the characters.
And even when I like them, I never love them. And that’s the case with The Tenth Circle.
On the surface, it’s no different from plenty of other historical conspiracy novels that I’ve read. Fast-moving plot, interesting twists… not the strongest characters, but that’s not a dealbreaker – people typically don’t read action thrillers for the characters anyway.
The thing that bugged me is that a lot of the characters could have been interesting. For all I know, they were back in earlier books. Not having that background, though, I see them as caricatures instead of well-rounded characters. It’s almost enough to make me want to go back to earlier books in the series. Almost… but not quite.
Because the book did have other issues too. Some of the decisions made by the bad guys didn’t make sense. There were plot jumps I didn’t quite follow. And the ending didn’t pack any punch, it just unfolded exactly as I’d expected it to, almost like the author ran out of twists a few chapters too early.
But these things didn’t bother me as I was reading, only when I started to think about them afterwards. While I was reading, I thought it was highly entertaining. I enjoyed myself. This isn’t a book I can say I’m definitely glad I read… but it’s a decent way to pass the time.
The Tenth Circle is available in print, as well as for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.
Does The Tenth Circle sound like something you’d pick up? Do you ever read series out of order?
* Quote taken from the uncorrected ARC. I didn’t have access to a final copy and couldn’t get in contact with the publisher to verify.