What if Pandora’s Box were real? Blaine McCracken finds himself facing this very question—and the greatest threat to mankind—in his long-awaited return to the page
Rogue special-operations agent McCracken has never been shy about answering the call, and this time it comes in the aftermath of a deepwater oil rig disaster that claims the life of a onetime member of his commando unit. The remnants of the rig and its missing crew lead him to the inescapable conclusion that one of the most mysterious and deadly forces in the universe is to blame: dark matter, both a limitless source of potential energy and an unimaginably destructive weapon.
Joining forces again with his trusty sidekick, Johnny Wareagle, McCracken races to stop two deadly enemies who want the dark matter at all costs. A powerful energy magnate and the leader of a Japanese doomsday cult both seek the ultimate prize for their own nefarious reasons, and McCracken and Wareagle’s mission to defeat them takes the duo on a nonstop journey across the world and thousands of years into the past where the truth lies in the ancient Pandora’s Temple, built to safeguard the world’s most powerful weapon.
McCracken’s only hope to save the world is to find the mythical temple. Along the way, he and Wareagle find themselves up against Mexican drug gangs, killer robots, an army of professional assassins, and a legendary sea monster. The hero of nine previous bestselling thrillers, McCracken is used to the odds being stacked against him, but this time the stakes have never been higher.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Jon Land including rare images from the author’s personal collection.
About the Author
Jon Land is the USA Today –bestselling author of The Tenth Circle , Pandora’s Temple (winner of the 2012 International Book Award and nominated for a 2013 Thriller Award for Best E-Book Original Novel), and five other books featuring Blaine McCracken, Land’s iconic series hero, for Open Road Integrated Media. He also pens the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series, which includes Strong Rain Falling and Strong Darkness , winners of the USA Best Book Award in 2013 and 2014, in the Mystery and Thriller categories, respectively. Now with thirty-seven books to his credit, Land will soon be working on a new title for Open Road, in which McCracken teams up with Land’s other bestselling series hero, Jared Kimberlain ( The Eighth Trumpet and The Ninth Dominion ). Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and can be found at jonlandbooks.com and on Twitter with the handle @jondland.
Read an Excerpt
A Blaine McCracken Novel
By Jon Land
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2012 Jon Land
All rights reserved.
Juárez, Mexico: The present
The black Mercedes SUV slid up to the entrance of the walled compound, chickens skittering from its path in the shimmering heat as it squealed to a halt. Dust hung in the air like a light curtain, adding a dull sheen to everything it touched. A pair of armed guards approached the SUV from either side of the closed gate and tapped on the blacked-out window on both the driver and passenger sides.
"I'm here to see Señor Morales," said the driver, his face cloaked in the darkness of the interior.
"You're early," said the guard, hands closed over the door frame so his fingers were curled inside the cab. A thin layer of dust lifted by the breeze coated both his uniform and face.
"By a full day."
The driver feigned surprise. "Really? Guess I messed up with my day planner."
"Then we will see you tomorrow," the guard said, backing away from the SUV as if expecting the driver to take his leave.
"Sorry, I'm not available then. But if Señor Morales would prefer I take my business elsewhere, I'm sure his competition will be most interested in that business when I visit them tomorrow instead."
The lead guard moved up against the door again, two others with almost identical black hair and mustaches inching closer as well. "You will honor the terms of your deal."
"Just what I came here to do, amigo. Now go check with your boss and let's get on with it," said the driver.
He was wearing a cream-colored suit and T-shirt that was only slightly darker. The T-shirt fit him snugly, revealing a taut torso and chest expansive enough to strain the fabric. His face was ruddy, his complexion that of a man who'd spent many hours outside, though not necessarily in the sun. His thin beard was so tightly trimmed to his skin that it could have been confused for a trick of the SUV interior's dark shading. Other than a scar that ran through his right eyebrow and thick black hair sprinkled with a powdering of gray, his only real distinguishing feature was a pair of dark, deep-set eyes that looked like twin black holes spiraling through either side of his face.
"If Señor Morales and I have a deal, then the day shouldn't matter," he told the guard at his window.
"I'll tell him you'll be returning tomorrow."
"In which case, I'll be returning without this," the driver said, turning toward the passenger seat where a smaller man who looked ten years his senior held up a briefcase that was handcuffed to his wrist.
The older man's face was pocked with tiny scars all seeming to point toward a bent and bulbous nose that had been broken on more than one occasion. His eyes didn't seem to blink because when they did the motion was so rapid that it might as well have not happened at all.
"Señor Morales does not like to be threatened," the guard said, taking a step back from the vehicle. "It ruins his day."
"Then it's a good thing I'm not threatening anyone. Now open the gate," the man in the driver's seat said, gazing up at the unmanned watchtowers left over from Spanish colonial times when the compound had been an active fort and these walls had proved to be the staging ground for all manner of attacks launched against native Mexicans.
The guard backed farther away from the vehicle, raising a walkie-talkie to his lips. The window slid back up, quickly vanquishing the heat in favor of the soft cool of the air-conditioning.
"This ain't good, boss," said Sal Belamo from the passenger seat.
"Hope you didn't expect otherwise," Blaine McCracken said to him, smiling ever so slightly as he opened the sunroof, the cabin flooded immediately by light. "Otherwise, somebody else would've taken the job."
With a half-dozen assault rifles trained upon him, McCracken spent the next few moments carefully studying the exterior of the compound belonging to Arturo Nieves Morales, head of the Juárez drug cartel, the largest in a country dominated by them. He could see more guards armed with assault rifles posted strategically atop the walls amid the dust swirl.
"Those college kids Morales is holding should never have been down here in the first place, Sal."
"Spring break, boss. They thought they'd be safe in some resort in Cabo."
McCracken laid his hands on the steering wheel and leaned back. "They got taken outside a nightclub, lured into a van by some girls we now know were Morales's plants. Not exactly what you'd expect from honor students."
"Booze will do that to you."
"I wouldn't know, Sal. These are honor students who seem to lead the world in community service efforts. Their fraternity built a house for those Habitat for Humanity folks—a whole damn house, for God's sake."
"Sounds like you're taking this personal, boss."
"They're good kids who didn't deserve getting snatched in this sinkhole of a country."
"Parents couldn't raise the ransom?"
"What's the difference? You pay Morales, he just asks for more. And if you don't keep paying, you start getting your kid back one piece at a time."
"Uh-oh," from Belamo.
"I've heard that tone before."
"Doesn't matter, boss. You're picking up just where you left off, and only one way this goes, you ask me."
"With a lot of bodies left behind."
"So long as none of them belong to the hostages, Sal."CHAPTER 2
Washington: One week earlier
"I thought you were out," Henry Folsom said to Blaine McCracken seven days before.
Folsom had the look of a man born in a button-down shirt. Hair neatly slicked back, horn-rimmed glasses, and youthful features that would make him appear forty forever. There was something in his eyes, though, that unsettled McCracken a bit, a constant shifting of his gaze as if there was something he didn't want McCracken to see lurking there.
"Most people think I'm dead," McCracken said, folding his arms tightly across his chest.
Folsom shifted, as if to widen the space between them at the table. "All the same, I was glad when your name came up in conversation."
"Really? What kind of conversation was that?"
"Independent contractors capable of pulling off the impossible."
"I haven't pulled off anything, impossible or otherwise, for a couple years now."
"Are you saying you're not interested?"
"I'm here, aren't I? But my guess is I wouldn't be, if you hadn't pitched this job elsewhere."
"To more traditional authorities, you mean."
"Younger, anyway," said McCracken.
Folsom seemed to smirk. "The hostages are fraternity brothers from Brown University. One of their parents is a top immigration lawyer. That's why this ended up on my desk."
"You know him?"
"Nope, but I know you," Folsom said, folding his arms tightly and flashing another smirk. "I did my master's thesis on the true birth of covert operations, contrasting the work of the World War II–bred OSS with the Vietnam-era Operation Phoenix where CIA-directed assassins plucked off the North Vietnamese cadre one at a time." Folsom leaned forward, canting his shoulders forward as if he were about to bow. "I've been reading about you for twenty years now."
"There's nothing written about me."
Folsom came up just short of a wink. "I know."
McCracken had met him in the F Street Bistro in the State Plaza Hotel, a pleasant enough venue with cheery light and a slate of windows overlooking the street he instinctively avoided. McCracken had arrived first, as was his custom, and staked out a table in as close to a darkened corner as the place had to offer. He'd used this location in the past because of its status as one of Washington's best-kept secrets. Once he sat down, though, the room began to fill up around him, every table occupied within minutes and an army of waiters scurrying between them. McCracken found all the bustle distinctly unsettling and nursed a ginger ale that was almost all water and ice by the time Folsom arrived.
"You don't drink," Folsom noted.
"Never. So who in the special-ops community did you call first?"
"Maybe I've just always wanted to see your work firsthand."
"That's funny, Hank. A sense of humor makes you a rare commodity these days, what with so many ex-operators running around with their hands out. Guys who could be my kids. I turn sixty in a couple weeks, Hank. That puts me a step beyond even father figure."
"Normal channels had to be bypassed here," Folsom told him. "Can't send the Rangers or SEALs into Mexico with a new trade agreement about to be inked."
"And since you always wanted to work with me ..."
"I needed someone who could get the job done, McCracken. That immigration lawyer I just mentioned? He does work for us from time to time."
"Who's 'us,' Hank?"
"The State Department, who else?"
McCracken held Folsom's gaze until the younger man broke it. "If you say so, Hank."
"Name your price. It will be considered nonnegotiable."
McCracken chuckled at the promise. "First time for everything, I guess."
"So how much is it going to take to bring you out of retirement?"
"I wasn't aware I'd retired."
"How much, McCracken?"
McCracken sized the man up, from his perfectly tailored suit to professionally styled hair with not a strand out of place. "You been to the Vietnam Memorial lately, Hank?"
"No, I haven't."
"There are some names missing, the names of many of the men I served with in Vietnam who never came back. That's my fee. I pull this off, I want their names up there on the Wall where they belong. I want you to take care of it."
Folsom's eyes moved to McCracken's ring, simple black letters on gold. "D-S. Stands for Dead Simple, right?"
McCracken didn't respond.
"What's it mean?"
"I think you know."
"Because killing came so easy. You still worthy of the nickname 'McCrackenballs'?"
"You want my services or my autograph, Hank?"
Folsom leaned forward. "How many times did they ask you to go after Bin Laden?"
"Not a one."
"That's not what I heard."
"You heard wrong."
Folsom came up just short of a smile. "I heard there was a reason why the SEALs encountered so little resistance. I heard the bodies of eight pretty bad hombres were hauled out after the fact, all dead before the SEALs dropped in. Word is it was you and that big Indian friend of yours."
"His name is Johnny Wareagle."
Folsom said nothing.
"SEALs got Bin Laden, Hank. It's nice to fantasize about things being bigger than they really were, but that raid was big enough all on its own. Weird thing is that when I was in, I never got or wanted credit for anything. Now that I'm out, I get more than I deserve and still don't want any."
"You're not out," Folsom told him.
"Figure of speech. What they say when nobody calls you in anymore."
Across the table, Folsom suddenly looked older and more confident. "I called. And I'll see what I can do about getting those names added to the Wall."
"Is that what you call nonnegotiable?"
"I'll take care of it."
"Better. Now give me your word."
"Because a man's word means something, even in your world where lying rules the day."
"Used to be your world too."
McCracken's black eyes hardened even more. "It was never mine, Hank." He leaned forward, almost face-to-face with Folsom before the man from the State Department could register he'd moved at all. "Now tell me more about the job."
"Mexico," Folsom nodded. He leaned back in his chair to again lengthen the distance between them. "Gun-loving Juárez, specifically. Place is like the Old West. You'll be going up against a hundred guns in a walled fortress."
McCracken rose, jarring the table just enough to send the rest of his watery ginger ale sloshing around amid the melting ice cubes. "Send me the specs and the satellite recon."
"That's it?" Folsom asked.
"Not quite. I don't like working for somebody I can't trust." Folsom opened his mouth to respond, but McCracken rolled right over his words. "You're not from State. State doesn't work with people like me. It's not in their job description. Too busy covering their own asses. Politics, Hank, something you clearly don't give a shit about."
"All right, you got me. I'm Homeland Security," Folsom told him.
"Ah, the new catchall ..."
"You're right about the tools at State, McCracken. But we, on the other hand, get shit done. Being Homeland gives us a license to do pretty much anything we want."
"Including going outside the system to call in a dinosaur like me?"
Folsom tried to hold McCracken's stare. "Just answer me one question. Your phone doesn't ring until I call, it leaves me wondering."
"That's not a question."
Folsom didn't hesitate. "The question is, do you still have it or not ... McCrackenballs?"
McCracken smiled tightly. "Let me put it this way, Hank: when this is over, you may want to revise that thesis of yours."CHAPTER 3
"What's eating you, boss?" Sal Belamo asked, as McCracken steered the SUV toward the compound's gates after the guards finally waved him through.
"Folsom asked me if I still had it."
"Any doubt in your mind about that?"
"Two years is a long time, Sal."
"You're not saying you're scared."
"Nope, but I was: scared that the call wouldn't come again after the phone stopped ringing two years ago."
Belamo gazed around him. "Well, we can safely say that concern's been put to rest."
The inside of the compound jibed perfectly with the satellite reconnaissance photos Folsom had provided. It reminded McCracken of a typical Spanish mission, not unlike the famed Alamo in San Antonio, with an inner courtyard and a nest of buildings located beyond a walled façade that in olden times would have provided an extra layer of defense from attack. A lavish fountain left over from an earlier era was centered in the courtyard, beautifully restored but no longer functional. The sun burned high in a cloudless sky, flooding the compound with blistering hot light that reflected off the cream-colored array of buildings. The air smelled of scorched dirt mixed with stale perspiration that hung in the air like haze, the combination acrid enough to make McCracken want to hold his breath.
Excerpted from Pandora's Temple by Jon Land. Copyright © 2012 Jon Land. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPrologue: The Abyss,
The Mediterranean Sea: 2008,
Part One: The Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 1: Juárez, Mexico: The present,
Chapter 2: Washington: One week earlier,
Chapter 3: Juárez, Mexico,
Chapter 4: Juárez, Mexico,
Chapter 5: Juárez, Mexico,
Chapter 6: Juárez, Mexico,
Chapter 7: Juárez, Mexico,
Chapter 8: Deepwater Venture, Gulf of Mexico: One week later,
Chapter 9: Deepwater Venture, Gulf of Mexico,
Chapter 10: New Orleans,
Chapter 11: New Orleans,
Chapter 12: New Orleans,
Chapter 13: Crazy Horse, South Dakota: One month earlier,
Chapter 14: New Orleans,
Chapter 15: New Orleans,
Chapter 16: New Orleans,
Chapter 17: Greenland,
Chapter 18: New Orleans,
Chapter 19: Greenland,
Chapter 20: New Orleans,
Chapter 21: Northern Gulf Stream,
Chapter 22: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 23: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 24: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Part Two: The Storm,
Chapter 25: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 26: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 27: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 28: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 29: New Orleans,
Chapter 30: New Orleans,
Chapter 31: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 32: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 33: Deepwater Venture,
Chapter 34: New Orleans,
Chapter 35: New Orleans,
Chapter 36: Northern Gulf Stream,
Chapter 37: Northern Gulf Stream,
Chapter 38: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 39: New Orleans,
Part Three: Dark Matter,
Chapter 40: New Orleans,
Chapter 41: New Orleans,
Chapter 42: New Orleans,
Chapter 43: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 44: New Orleans,
Chapter 45: New Orleans,
Chapter 46: New Orleans,
Chapter 47: New Orleans,
Chapter 48: New Orleans,
Chapter 49: New Orleans,
Chapter 50: New Orleans,
Chapter 51: New Orleans,
Chapter 52: New Orleans,
Chapter 53: New Orleans,
Chapter 54: New Orleans,
Chapter 55: New Orleans,
Chapter 56: New Orleans,
Part Four: The Temple,
Chapter 57: New Orleans,
Chapter 58: New Orleans,
Chapter 59: Houston,
Chapter 60: Guangdong, China,
Chapter 61: Houston,
Chapter 62: Guangdong, China,
Chapter 63: Houston,
Chapter 64: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 65: Houston,
Chapter 66: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 67: Athens, Greece,
Chapter 68: Athens, Greece: Near 1650 B.C.,
Chapter 69: Athens, Greece,
Chapter 70: Hiroshima, Japan,
Chapter 71: Over the Atlantic Ocean,
Chapter 72: Port of Piraeus, Greece,
Chapter 73: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 74: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 75: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 76: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 77: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 78: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 79: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 80: The Mediterranean Sea,
Chapter 81: The Mediterranean Sea,
Part Five: Pandora's Jar,
Chapter 82: Tokyo,
Chapter 83: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 84: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 85: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 86: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 87: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 88: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 89: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 90: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 91: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Chapter 92: Pyrenees Mountains, Spain,
Epilogue: Laid to Rest,
Washington, D.C.: One week later,
A Biography of Jon Land,
A Sneak Peek at The Tenth Circle,
Providence, Rhode Island
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I first started reading, I didn't know what to expect from Pandora's Temple, I knew it was an action thriller, but I had no idea I was about to read what turned out to be one of the most action packed, crazy in a good way books I've ever read. I'm actually sitting at my computer now trying to figure out how to get all this action into my review. This is the 10th book in the Blaine McCracken novels, the first books coming out in the late 1980's, but it can be read a standalone. This is my first time reading a book that had ninjas, a giant squid attacking a boat, an entire crew vanishing into thin air, a doomsday cult, the location of Pandora's Box and terrorists all in the storyline. But it's all in a day's work for Blaine McCracken, semi-retired CIA operative. McCracken is pushing sixty, but can still kick serious a$$. His nickname is "McCrackenballs". (That nickname cracked me up BTW) As the story starts off, Homeland Security hires McCracken to rescue kidnapped American college students who are being held hostage in a drug lord's mansion in Mexico. McCracken and his sidekick, Indian warrior Johnny Wareagle show up, armed to the teeth and they kick butt first and take names later. Missiles are being launched, explosions are going off, gunfire is poppin' off...the whole nine yards. The college kids are rescued and all is well for the time being. All the while, a drilling rig named Deepwater Venture is in the Gulf of Mexico doing a deep sea drill when the whole crew vanishes into thin air. Homeland Security declares a Level Six event, Level Five being nuclear war, and calls McCracken in for help. The world itself could be ending. Enter environmentalist Katie DeMarco who is currently in New Orleans who was on board the Venture before it went down. She is now being chased by bad guys who think she knows something about the whole thing. McCracken has a mystery to solve and the world to save and he will stop at nothing to get the job done. I liked the twists and turns the story took. I found the middle of the book lagged a bit as McCracken and Wareagle teamed up with scientists and a sea captain in order to figure out what was going on. But the reason I felt it slowed down is probably because of all the action in the beginning.The action picks up again once McCracken finds Katie DeMarco. She's got her own secrets and her own storyline, and I was curious about who she really was. There's some pretty cool scenes, including one with a deep sea dive and a giant sea squid attacking the group. Yes. The characters are over the top, there's stereotypical baddies, McCracken is sixty and still kicking butt. It's one of those books that is so outlandish, it's friggin' fantastic. McCracken wields a sword at one point. A samurai sword in the middle of a New Orleans restaurant. The action scenes and the sheer creativity of the story I think make Jon Land a fantastic writer. I've never read anything quite like this. The story goes from New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico and Spain to Ancient Greece B.C. and Tokyo. Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review.
I have read all the Blaine McCracken novels, and this does not disappoint. After what seems like forever, it was fun to read about him, Wareagle, and Belamo again. The plot of dark matter ending the world and us with it is most interesting. If you liked the early McCracken novels, I feel you will enjoy this one.
Enjoyed the return of Blain McCracken ! Nice to See Jon return to the characters that got him started !
This is the very first McCracken novel I have read and I'm hooked! John pens his plot with strong characters, mystery, thrills, twists and turns with mythology and history woven in. A really nice paced story that hooks you in and doesn't let go. Highly recommended for all readers! This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author which was provided for an honest review.
My review: It was one weird book! Pandora's Temple was the first book written by Jon Land which I have read, so I was not familiar with his writing before Pandora's Temple. It was action-packed, fast-paced and easy to read. what was confusing for me, was the mixture of genres used and I was in trouble with deciding if I liked that or not. I usually enjoy when genres are combined, but Pandora's Temple could be categorized everything between Thriller and Mystery to Science Fiction. One thing is sure - it was definitely not a romance :) With that said, I have to admit, it was entertaining read, even though a tad too much out there - almost like a Fantasy. Since it is fiction and as mentioned I do like combined genres, I could live with that, but it did confuse me. I will come back to it little later in my review. Plot: Blaine McCracken is an ex-special Forces agent pushing sixty years who is about to save the world. He fights with giant squid, deals with a mysterious dark matter, disappearing people, he searches for Pandora's Jar and Temple, travels the world and saves it. Yes, he does all that plus many other things in one story. For me the plot was not very believable. I had severe difficulties with imagining two guys closing their sixties fighting like young untouchable and unkillable James Bonds. I really could not buy it. The other problem I had was mixing the mythology of Pandora's Box with Homeland Security and that is the reason why this book could easily be a Fantasy. It also had way too many story lines for one story, at least for my taste. I was probably expecting more of a thriller than it really was. I do enjoy both military and political thrillers, but I can't say that Pandora's Temple was that. It wasn't Fantasy either. The plot had way too many weird things happening for my taste and I am not usually very picky. Now to the strange part. Even though the plot was confusing, I still liked it because it was captivating. I liked the weird characters and strange and unworldly things happening. I liked the humor which was very visible in the writing and for me reading Pandora's Temple was like reading a comic book of A-Team, just the main characters were slightly older. It was corny and funny reading. I could not take this book too seriously due to far-fetched plot, but I did enjoy it because it was entertaining. Characters: Characters were the ones who saved this otherwise surreal story. They were original and funny. I kind of liked Blaine McCracken and the way the author developed him throughout the whole book. He was a kick-butt characters who was easy to understand. He did have features I did not like, but he was funny. My favorite character was Johnny Wareagle, Baine's long-time buddy. Johnny is an Indian warrior who could do things and see things others aren't able to. The villain was the second favorite character of mine, because he was so stereotypical and evil, so his characters seemed to be taken out of a "How-To-Write-A-Perfect-Villain" handbook. Generally: If you like books which are not ordinary which do not have to have a clear story line, but entertain you, then Pandora's Temple is definitely for you!
Pandora's Temple by the fabulous author Jon Land is fabulous! What an exciting, action-packed book! I especially love the way Jon Land develops his characters, making them come to life as the story progresses. Few authors have his unique ability to do that. Mr. Land has a fascinating mind to be able to tell such wonderfully detailed and believable stories. I have read almost all of his books and it would be difficult to determine a favorite story or character since all are so well done and so different. Jon Land is truly a gifted writer and I look forward to reading his next book, Strong Rain Falling.
Just as the blurb on the cover suggest Jon Land is a great thriller writer. this is a fast paced, action packed, thriller. This is the first I have read of the McCracken series and it will not be my last. Blaine McCracken is facing a milestone his 60th birthday. In the face of this milestone and the fact that he hasn't had a mission in two years leaves McCracken feeling that he no longer has what it takes. He is given a suicide mission and proves himself. Then the real test begins. McCracken and his long time friend and partner in crime find themselves up against formidable opponents. Land really made me thing about what our retired service men and women are doing with their spare time. I also wonder how many former special service persons contract themselves out for the safety and security of our nation? I'm sure many of them feel as McCracken does. I am also sure that their services can still be used today.
First let me say that I've never actually read a true thriller before and have I been missing out! (I've read suspense-thrillers and psychological thrillers but never a true, action-packed thriller.) Pandora's Temple is a phenomenal read that incorporates Greek mythology, environmental terrorism, a Japanese Doomsday cult, dark matter, the US Government, contract government agents, an international energy company, and science fact along with science fiction. Amazingly, all of these elements (and oh such much more) are deftly handled by Mr. Land to provide a story that has as many ups-and-downs, not to mention twists-and-turns as the most elaborate roller coaster. Blaine McCracken and Johnny Wareagle are true comrades-in-arms. They've been buddies since Vietnam and have had numerous adventures over the years. An inexplicable event on a Gulf drilling rig followed by a kidnapping attempt on a young woman result in Blaine and Johnny being co-opted by Homeland Security to investigate. Their investigation leads them on a search for not only the young lady in question, Katie Demarco, but answers to the truth about the myth of Pandora and Pandora's Box. Pandora's Temple has action that takes place around the world, including the US, Mexico, Japan, Spain and Greece. Blaine and Johnny seem to be blends of James Bond, MacGyver, Batman and Robin, along with the Lone Ranger and Tonto. They are definitely the good guys and can always get the job done, no matter what. They are assisted in their quest for the truth by some interesting characters. My particular favorite was Captain Seven. A technology genius that is always searching for the next marijuana high (he insists it helps him to think more efficiently). The bad guys are just as awesome since they do not fear death but seem to embrace the idea of death and doom, namely the remnants of the Aum Shinrikyo or Japanese doomsday cult. The incorporation of science fact, science fiction (I hope it's science fiction), history and Greek mythology into the international intrigue and thrills was quite masterful. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Pandora's Temple. This may have been my first action-thriller read by Mr. Land but it certainly won't be my last.
I've heard Jon Land most often compared to the likes of Clive Cussler, which is a bit of an unfair comparison. While both write formulaic adventures with charismatic leading men, Cussler has a more grounded, realistic feel to his novels. Anybody expecting the same from Land will find themselves severely challenged, if not disappointed. Based on what I've read (and I've cued up a pair of his other titles for a read), he seems to be more extreme in pushing the boundaries of disbelief, almost cartoon-like in his imagination, making a comparison to the likes of Matthew Reilly or James Rollins much more apt. It is Blaine McCracken, the roguish hero who plays by his own rules, who makes the novel work. Very much grounded in the action hero mold of the 80s, he's an intriguing character with a wry sense of humour. Definitely eccentric, but immensely likeable from the start, he's the kind of hero who you can very well imagine having a few drinks with after a long, hard day of saving the world. Surrounding Blaine is an action-packed, fast-paced story with some exceptionally well-choreographed action scenes. It's a novel that has big-budget Hollywood thriller written all over it - with the understanding, of course, that Blaine would likely be cast as younger and more physically attractive. From a hostage rescue south of the border, to a climactic battle high atop a mountain, Pandora's Temple offers a heady mix of ancient mythology, violent robots, sea monsters, and the requisite wealthy supervillain. It's an odd story, and definitely takes a while to become comfortable with but, like the craziest of rollercoasters, it is definitely worth the ride.
I will start by saying I have not read any other "McCracken" books. But I think I am hooked. There are very few serial type books that I can really stay focused on but I can definitely see these being part of that elite company. There are so many different relationships going on in this book. At the beginning I found it odd that I just could not see the relationship between them all and how they will eventually become intertwined. As the story moves farther along the relationships begin to come together and form an intricate web of adventures. Pandora's Temple is an adventure packed, intricately thought out, web leading up to a defining moment where it all comes together. If every one of John Land's book are this elaborate - count me in! This book had mythology and history interwoven into its plot making it even more enjoyable and captivating. Definitely a five star book. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When it comes to thrillers, sometimes I really like them, and there are other times when I am just not too sure. This is a book that is very well-written, and I found the story very fast-paced. In fact, once I started it, I really didn't want to put it down. There was never a dull moment, and I was even able to keep the characters straight. Sometimes I feel really lost when I read thrillers, but this one was fairly easy to follow. I could have done without the profanity, but since a man wrote the book (I know, I'm sexist), and it is a thriller, I can be forgiving. I am glad there were no sex scenes nor overly descriptive violence. Yes, there was violence, but I could handle what was being written. There is one portion of the book that just didn't seem to make sense. I struggled to set aside the reality I know and go searching for the lost Pandora's temple. And the ending really did make me roll my eyes. I know what the author was trying to do, but I would have preferred a different explanation for the happenings in the book. But maybe that is my realistic side kicking in. Except for that, this is one of the better thrillers I have read, and I can recommend to those of you who like thrillers (or even if you want to try a well-written thriller, this may be for you). I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
I really liked this book alot once I got further into it and the only thing I was sad about was that our heroes are in their 60's and 70's and I was like, what? I guess the younger generation just don't know how to get it done in this book! There are alot of twists and turns and some really suprising reveals and upsets that I did not see coming. I usually am pretty good at spotting who the "real" enemy or killer is in books, but this one had me stumped. I wasn't too crazy about how it ended with the supposedly green space person but I guess it was poetic justice for all the people that was killed in the years that they were active, including the death of the mother and brother of this person. I did however, get a great kick out of the Indian and the Captain. I think without them, the story would have just been another spy/terrorist/end of the world kinda book. So, for coming up with those 2 characters, I thank you because even though it was very serious what they were doing, I really got to laugh some too at the both of these amazing characters. But, did you have to make them so old??? That means not many more books about them afterwhile I guess because how much longer can men of that age go on being super heroes and saving the world? This one is a keeper, guys, so you really need to read it!
Jon Land in his new book, "Pandora's Temple" Book Ten in the Blaine McCracken series published by the author gives us a new adventure of Blaine McCracken. From the back cover: What if Pandora's Box were real? Blaine McCracken finds himself facing this very question--and the greatest threat to mankind--in his long-awaited return to the page Rogue special-operations agent McCracken has never been shy about answering the call, and this time it comes in the aftermath of a deepwater oil rig disaster that claims the life of a onetime member of his commando unit. The remnants of the rig and its missing crew lead him to the inescapable conclusion that one of the most mysterious and deadly forces in the universe is to blame: dark matter, both a limitless source of potential energy and an unimaginably destructive weapon. Joining forces again with his trusty sidekick Johnny Wareagle, McCracken races to stop two deadly enemies who want the dark matter at all costs. A powerful energy magnate and the leader of a Japanese doomsday cult both seek the ultimate prize for their own nefarious reasons, and McCracken and Wareagle's mission to defeat them takes the duo on a nonstop journey across the world and thousands of years into the past where the truth lies in the ancient Pandora's Temple, built to safeguard the world's most powerful weapon. McCracken's only hope to save the world is to find the mythical temple. Along the way, he and Wareagle find themselves up against Mexican drug gangs, killer robots, an army of professional assassins, and a legendary sea monster. The hero of nine previous bestselling thrillers, McCracken is used to the odds being stacked against him, but this time the stakes have never been higher. For all the books I have read I am sorry to admit that I have never read anything by Jon Land before. My error and something that I am going to have to catch up on in a big way-there are nine other previous Blaine McCracken novels out there. "Pandora's Temple" is one huge action-packed thriller from page one. The world is in deadly trouble, Greek mythology is involved and there is a reclusive billionaire who wants to control the world's energy supply. Johnny Wareagle and McCracken are up against it this time as their skills are really put to some outrageous tests including a sword battle in a restaurant. This is pure excitement. Mr. Land obviously likes to tell a good story, never mind all the flavors that he puts in it from Science Fiction to Ninja warriors this one has it all. You will not be disappointed with "Pandora's Temple". It is a roaring adventure from start to finish. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Partners In Crime. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."