Born, James O.

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Born, James O.

PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Donna; children: John, Emily.

ADDRESSES: Home—Palm Beach County, FL. Agent—c/o Putnam Publicity, Penguin Group, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Law enforcement agent and novel writer. U.S. Marshals Service, Miami/West Palm Beach, FL, deputy marshal, 1986–87; Drug Enforcement Agency, West Palm Beach, FL, investigator, c. 1987–91; Florida Department of Law Enforcement, special agent, c. 1991–.


Walking Money, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Shock Wave, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.

Escape Clause, Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS: A special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, James O. Born first became interested in writing crime fiction during long hours spent on wearisome surveillance missions. Born's early attempts at writing—nearly fifteen years before his first book was published—were influenced by the works of military fiction writers Tom Clancy and W.E.B. Griffin, as well as by a side job providing technical advice to crime writer Elmore Leonard. In a 2005 interview with Mystery Ink Online contributor David J. Montgomery, Born shared how his career with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) inspired his books: "When I was an agent with the DEA I would set up on these incredibly boring surveillances, following smugglers all over south Florida, waiting for the little lead or piece of information that would break the case. During that time I'd imagine what would happen if…. Rarely was anything as exciting as what I imagined nor were my actions as courageous as I had imagined. I thought, 'Man, I could put this in a book for every cop that dreamed of doing something more.'"

Accuracy is as important to Born as is establishing a realistic character. "It took fifteen years of rejection before I sold a novel but I've always tried to stay true to the underlying principles of the physics of police work," Born wrote in a 2005 article for Web Mystery Magazine. "I like seeing accurate detail, not something a writer learned on Law and Order or CSI. A good story is much more important than perfect detail, but the little things can add up to turn off a realism junkie."

Born's first published novel, Walking Money, follows Florida law enforcement agent Bill Tasker as he struggles against an attempted framing by an F.B.I. officer. Library Journal contributor Craig Shufelt called the book "an amusing comic crime novel" and "an enjoyable and entertaining read." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked: "Putting 17 years of service with various law enforcement agencies to excellent use, Born delivers a riveting, serpentine tale…. This is a terrific debut." Connie Fletcher wrote in a review for Booklist that Born's "background lends authority not only to the plot but also to the dialogue, the edgy cop humor, and the glitzy-grotesque South Florida setting," producing "a sleek and slick caper."

Walking Money was quickly followed by Shock Wave, a second Tasker novel that follows the agent as he tracks a deranged bomber. "Top thrillwork, with a Jerry Bruckheimer ending [and] much welcome humor" wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented: "An eccentric cast and a credible plot lift Born's second Florida-set crime novel."



Booklist, May 1, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of Walking Money, p. 1502.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Shock Wave, p. 243.

Library Journal, July, 2004, Craig Shufelt, review of Walking Money, p. 66.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2004, review of Walking Money, p. 49; March 21, 2005, review of Shock Wave, p. 37.


James O. Born Home Page, (September 22, 2005).

Mystery Ink Online, (May 17, 2005), David J. Montgomery, author interview.

Web Mystery Magazine, (September 22, 2005), James O. Born, "Writer Cops."