Born, James O. 1960(?)–

views updated

Born, James O. 1960(?)–


Born c. 1960; married; wife's name Donna; children: John, Emily.


Home—Palm Beach County, FL. Agent— Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency, 318 E. 51st St., New York, NY 10022.


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.


Field of Fire, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.

Burn Zone, Putnam (New York, NY), 2008.


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 Web site contributor David J. Montgomery, Born shared how his career with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) inspired his books, commenting that his experiences were not nearly as exciting nor his actions as courageous as the stories he imagined in his head. "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 establishing a realistic character. "I've always tried to stay true to the underlying principles of the physics of police work," Born wrote in a 2005 article for the Web Mystery Magazine Web site. 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 "enjoyable and entertaining read." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that the author wows readers with a "riveting, serpentine tale," and Connie Fletcher wrote in a review for Booklist that Born has produced a "sleek" story.

Walking Money was quickly followed by Shock Wave, a second "Bill Tasker" novel that follows the agent as he tracks a deranged bomber. This novel is "top thrillwork," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that the book's highlights include an "eccentric cast and a credible plot."

Born followed up Shock Wave with a third "Bill Tasker" novel, Escape Clause. This edition finds Tasker at a bank with his children when suddenly armed robbers attempt to rob the bank and Tasker is forced to battle the criminals. Unhappy with this incident, Tasker's superiors assign him to a more low profile case, investigating the murder of a prison inmate. The investigation seems to start out slowly until another murder is committed and Tasker has to figure out if some of the prison officials are involved. Critics and readers enjoyed the novel, lauding the momentum and tension the author created. Escape Clause is an "explosive sequel," wrote David Wright in a review for Booklist. Others praised Born for the compelling and interesting characters he has created. The novel is supported by "a strong, colorful cast," noted one Kirkus Reviews contributor.

In 2007, Born departed from his "Bill Tasker" novels but continued to write about law enforcement officers in Field of Fire. The main character and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent Alex Duarte is assigned to the case of a bombing in a Florida migrant-labor camp, where the intended target, criminal Alberto Salez, escaped unharmed. Now Duarte is set to track down Salez with the help of Department of Justice lawyer Caren Larson. At the same time, the labor camp bomber also is tracking Salez. The story that ensues takes Duarte and the rest of the characters on a tense and suspenseful journey. Field of Fire was greeted with positive reviews overall, with critics noting Born's continued skill at writing fast-paced stories. The author has both "talent and momentum," wrote Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky. Readers also responded warmly to Born's new lead character—"an interesting new protagonist," commented Gloria Feit in a review for Reviewer's Bookwatch.

Burn Zone, Born's next effort featuring ATF Agent Alex Duarte, kicks off as Duarte participates in the bust of a minor drug dealer. This arrest leads to Duarte heading to New Orleans with his partner to follow up on the information gleaned from the bit player regarding a major drug distributor who also deals in firearms. Eventually, multiple branches of federal law enforcement join in the hunt. Critics responded to the book with widely disparate reviews, ranging from disparaging to enthusiastic. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews criticized the book for its "comic-strip villains and a protagonist whose habits have ossified into routine." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly opined that Duarte as a protagonist falls flat, lacking the detail and personality of Bill Tasker, stating: "Hopefully, Born will make his hero more a leading man than a background player in subsequent adventures." However, Jeff Ayers, writing for Library Journal, said of Born that "his experiences lend a realism to the narrative that puts it a notch above the rest of the crime thriller pack." Joe Hartlaub, writing for, dubbed Duarte "one of the most unique, quirky and appealing characters inhabiting contemporary genre fiction," and went on to call Burn Zone "required reading for 2008."



Booklist, May 1, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of Walking Money, p. 1502; January 1, 2006, David Wright, review of Escape Clause, p. 64; January 1, 2007, Wes Lukowsky, review of Field of Fire, p. 61.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Shock Wave, p. 243; December 15, 2005, review of Escape Clause, p. 1300; December 15, 2006, review of Field of Fire, p. 1232; December 15, 2007, review of Burn Zone.

Library Journal, July, 2004, Craig Shufelt, review of Walking Money, p. 66; February 1, 2008, Jeff Ayers, review of Burn Zone, p. 59.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2004, review of Walking Money, p. 49; March 21, 2005, review of Shock Wave, p. 37; November 21, 2005, review of Escape Clause, p. 27; November 27, 2006, review of Field of Fire, p. 32; December 10, 2007, review of Burn Zone, p. 36.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, February 1, 2007, Gloria Feit, review of Field of Fire.


Booked.TV, (November 15, 2006), author interview., (March 31, 2008), Joe Hartlaub, reviews of Field of Fire and Burn Zone.

Curled up with a Good Book, (August 21, 2007), review of Field of Fire.

International Thriller Writers, (August 21, 2007), review of Field of Fire.

James O. Born Home Page, (August 21, 2007).

James O. Born MySpace Profile, (August 21, 2007).

January, (April 23, 2008), Anthony Rainone, author interview.

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

Naked Authors, (January 30, 2007), author profile.

Web Mystery, (August 21, 2007), author profile.