Land, Jon 1960–
Land, Jon 1960–
PERSONAL: Born 1960. Education: Brown University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1979.
ADDRESSES: Home—Providence, RI. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and screenwriter. Presenter of writing workshops in Barrington, RI; has worked in the martial arts.
MEMBER: Phi Betta Kappa.
The Lucifer Directive, Zebra (New York, NY), 1984.
Vortex, Zebra (New York, NY), 1984.
The Council of Ten, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1987.
The Eighth Trumpet, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1989.
The Valhalla Testament, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1990.
The Ninth Dominion, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1991.
Hope Mountain, Tom Doherty (New York, NY), 1998.
Dolphin Key, Forge (New York, NY), 1999.
Also author of The Doomsday Spiral and Labyrinth.
"BLAINE MCCRACKEN" SERIES; TECHNOTHRILLER NOVELS
The Omega Command, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1986.
The Alpha Deception, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1988.
The Gamma Option, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1989.
The Omicron Legion, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1991.
Day of the Delphi, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.
The Fires of Midnight, Forge (New York, NY), 1995.
Dead Simple, Forge (New York, NY), 1998.
Also author of The Vengeance of the Tao; books have been translated into five languages.
"BEN KAMAL" SERIES
The Walls of Jericho, Forge (New York, NY), 1997.
The Pillars of Solomon, Forge (New York, NY), 1999.
A Walk in the Darkness, Forge (New York, NY), 2000.
Keepers of the Gate, Forge (New York, NY), 2001.
Blood Diamonds, Forge (New York, NY), 2002.
The Blue Widows, Forge (New York, NY), 2003.
The Last Prophecy, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
ADAPTATIONS: The Walls of Jericho was released as an audiobook, Soundspectrum, 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: Jon Land is known primarily for his international technothrillers, most notably his successful "Blaine McCracken" series. Blaine McCracken, a rogue agent from the "Gap" intelligence force, is featured in each of the novels comprising the series, including The Omega Command, Day of the Delphi, The Fires of Midnight, and Dead Simple. Aiming for entertainment rather than intellectual enlightenment, Land explained to Carol McCabe of the Providence Journal-Bulletin: "I write about people who use things." Land has also written a series of thrillers about Ben Kamal, an Arab-American police officer who moves to the Middle East to work for the United Nations Safety and Security Service. He teams up with the ex-Israeli police chief Danielle Barnea and together the couple battle a host of terrorist plots. Some seven million copies of Land's novels have been published in six different languages.
The "Blaine McCracken" novels' penchant for no-holds-barred action is present in the very first series installment, 1986's The Omega Command. As a Publishers Weekly contributor noted, wherever McCracken goes, "dead bodies appear. Early victims include an acid-throwing black revolutionary dressed as Santa Claus and a group of shot gun-wielding Christmas carolers." The critic recommended the novel to those readers looking for "macho fantasy adventures." Subsequent books in the series have been similar in style, featuring high-tech destruction and political intrigue. Another Publishers Weekly contributor, reviewing The Omicron Legion, wrote: "Mind control, robotics, kidnaping and gruesome murders are some of the complex games facing McCracken and his cohorts as they travel from the Amazon to Washington, Rio and Japan in this first-rate suspense thriller." A Kirkus Reviews contributor described The Fires of Midnight, a novel Land has called one of his best, as a "zippy hardcover debut from the prolific Land." The reviewer added: "It's got a kid, a girl, a hero, not to mention Nazis and even a mechanical dinosaur: a slick and serpentinely constructed triumph of boy fiction if ever there was one." The 1998 addition to the "McCracken" series, Dead Simple, "is full of his trademark rock-'em, sock-'em, shoot-'em-up, blow-'em-up, nonstop action," according to Emily Melton in Booklist.
Land began a new series with The Walls of Jericho, which revolves around Arab-American policeman Ben Kamal. Leaving Detroit after his family is murdered by a serial killer, Kamal moves to the West Bank to join the Palestinian police force. His first case: to find a serial killer who is active in the ancient city of Jericho. Critics were enthusiastic in their reviews of The Walls of Jericho. "Land's diabolically clever thriller is packed with emotion and suspense, offering larger-than-life heroes and a nightmarish glimpse of life in today's conflict-ridden Middle East," wrote Emily Melton in a review for Booklist. "A highly entertaining thriller," A Publishers Weekly contributor dubbed the work "a riveting thriller about bone-deep prejudices, secrets and betrayals." Melissa Kuzma Rockicki, writing in the Library Journal, called the book "fast, exciting, and, even more important, believable."
A Walk in the Darkness, released in 2000, finds Kamal paired up with Chief Inspector Danielle Barnea, a member of Israel's National Police who also happens to be Kamal's pregnant girlfriend. Investigating the death of a group of U.S. archaeologists in the desert, Kamal and Barnea slowly unearth pieces of the murderous puzzle, which include an ancient papyrus scroll, a Vatican hit squad, and ethnic warfare. In typical Land fashion, "hero and heroine dangle from helicopters, drive jeeps through napalm attacks, and dodge countless rounds of machine gun fire," commented Booklist contributor Bill Ott. Keepers of the Gate, the fourth novel pairing Kamal and Barnea, features a killer on the trail of Holocaust survivors. A Publishers Weekly contributor commended Land for devising a "series of innovative plot twists that take the story in some intriguing directions." David Pitt called Keepers of the Gate "a lively and well-told yarn, sure to please fans of high-concept thrillers" in his review in Booklist.
In Blood Diamonds, Kamal and Barnea set out to thwart a Sierra Leone female terrorist, known as the Dragon, who has plans to destroy half of the world's population. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the novel contains "some sharp political insights into how prospects in the Middle East have deteriorated." A reviewer writing in Kirkus Reviews noted that the novel "sweeps along at mach-Ludlum speed but still digs deeply into Arab/Israeli horrors."
Sometime lovers Kamal and Barnea finds themselves in different parts of the world but soon team up again in the novel The Blue Widows. This time, they are on the trail of a stolen cache of smallpox virus that could wipe out the entire American population. As they try to stop the attack, the duo discover a religious writing directing someone to bring about the Biblical "end of all things" and an Islamic terrorist who may be seeking to fulfill the directive. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a fun read."
In The Last Prophecy, Land's seventh book featuring Kamal and Barnea, the author leads the two on another mission to save the United States. This time the plot involves a sixteenth-century prophecy by Nostradamus. The culprits are ex-Soviet spies deeply embedded in various governments and working with Iraqi terrorists to plan and carry out attacks. Michael Gannon, writing in Booklist, commented that the author "taps every element the thriller genre has to give." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the "mock-serious pulp fiction plot moves hell-bent—just as fans want and as Land loves to deliver."
Land has moved beyond the thriller genre in such works as Hope Mountain, set in a skiing school for the disabled, and Dolphin Key, a novel revolving around dolphin-human therapy. A Publishers Weekly contributor reviewing Hope Mountain argued that Land "builds an engaging story around the drama of three damaged souls, and even avoids preaching on the nobility of physical challenge," calling the book "a fine, small page-turner." In a review of Dolphin Key, another Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "The formulaic plot fosters little suspense, but Land does a credible job of presenting the perspectives of both animal rights activists and supporters of dolphin-human therapy."
Land has credited his creativity to his overindulgence in James Bond films as a young boy, and cites Clive Cussler and Stephen Hunter as among his favorite reads. He also stays true to the artistic credo that has earned him countless fans in some fifty countries, telling McCabe: "I just hope that ten years from now I will still remember the main obligation of any writer is not to disappoint."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1997, Emily Melton, review of The Walls of Jericho, p. 1406; April 15, 1998, Emily Melton, review of Dead Simple, p. 1386; February 15, 1999, George Needham, review of The Pillars of Solomon, p. 1045; May 1, 2000, Bill Ott, review of A Walk in the Darkness, p. 1621; April 1, 2001, David Pitt, review of Keepers of the Gate, p. 1449; March 1, 2002, David Pitt, review of Blood Diamonds, p. 1096; March 1, 2004, Michael Gannon, review of The Last Prophecy, p. 1142.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1995, review of The Fires of Midnight, p. 1372; February 1, 1998, review of Dead Simple, pp. 138-139; February 1, 1999, review of The Pillars of Solomon, p. 169; February 1, 2002, review of Blood Diamonds, p. 129; January 15, 2003, review of The Blue Widows, p. 114; February 15, 2004, review of The Last Prophecy, p. 148.
Library Journal, November 1, 1995, Maria A. Perez-Stable, review of The Fires of Midnight, p. 107; March 15, 1997, Melissa Kuzma Rockicki, review of The Walls of Jericho, p. 90.
New York Times Book Review, April 16, 2000, Marilyn Stasio, review of A Walk in the Darkness, p. 32.
Providence Journal-Bulletin, December 13, 1995, Carol McCabe, "Entertaining Is Author Jon Land's Top Priority."
Publishers Weekly, October 17, 1986, review of The Omega Command, p. 64; January 22, 1988, review of The Alpha Deception, p. 110; June 22, 1990, review of The Valhalla Testament, p. 50; May 3, 1991, review of The Omicron Legion, p. 68; February 17, 1997, review of The Walls of Jericho, p. 210; January 26, 1998, review of Dead Simple, p. 68; October 12, 1998, review of Hope Mountain, p. 56; January 18, 1999, review of The Pillars of Solomon, p. 328; October 25, 1999, review of Dolphin Key, p. 49; March 13, 2000, review of A Walk in the Darkness, p. 62; March 19, 2001, review of Keepers of the Gate, p. 76; February 25, 2002, review of Blood Diamonds, p. 39; March 17, 2003, review of The Blue Widows, p. 56; March 22, 2004, review of The Last Prophecy, p. 64.
West Coast Review of Books, July-August, 1987, review of The Council of Ten, p. 29; June-July, 1991, review of The Valhalla Testament, p. 22.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (August 26, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of The Last Prophecy.
John D. Land's web site, http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/7015 (August 28, 2006).
Metroline, http://www.metroline-online.com/ (June 6, 2001), Tj Feldman, interview with Jon Land.
Mystery Reader, http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (August 28, 2006), Thea Davis, review of Keepers of the Gate.