Tag Archives: James O. Born

A speedy, short, slick, and satisfying addition to Michael Bennet detective series

Manhunt, by James Patterson with James O. Born. BookShots. 144 pages. Paperback $4.99. Kindle Ebook $3.99.

The BookShots imprint is a new line in the Little, Brown publishing domain. These are titles that are long on action, story-driven, and easy to read in an evening. Bestseller king James Patterson considers these “among his best novels of any length.” By partnering with other writers, Mr. Patterson has stepped up his productivity (which was always high).  Writing shorter books helps as well.  

These books seem aimed at readers of digital versions. As the author says, you can enjoy them “on a commute” (let’s hope this means in a vehicle you are not driving), “or even on your cell phone during breaks at work.” Indeed, there is a handy app for downloading BookShots titles to your smart phone or tablet.

This title is part of the highly successful “A Michael Bennet Story” series. Written in a partnership by two Floridians, it justifies Mr. Patterson’s recent practice of inviting a co-author to the writing party.

Its Thanksgiving Day in New York, and the action begins with Michael and almost all the members of his family are out on the street with a good view of that great institution – Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even with the hyper vigilance of the New York City Police Department, something resembling the cliché terrorist pattern occurs. A white truck slams into a crowd of spectators, and Michael barely has the time to grab and rescue his daughter Shawna.


The driver exits his truck and shouts “Hawqala.”

Michael attempts to take control of the scene, safeguarding his family as well as others nearby. Then the driver detonates an explosive device that sends the truck’s roof thirty feet into the air, from which it crashes straight down. Pandemonium has broken loose. Oddly, there are very few patrolmen nearby. Many had been hurt, some were aiding victims, and “no one was chasing the perp.”

Michael follows the driver of the truck and is about to overtake him, but the man makes his escape.

It’s a great cityscape action sequence, ready for the movies.


Being the key witness, Michael reports what he knows and works with the sketch artist. Before long, the FBI takes over the case and expects the local police to hang back yet be supportive. Michael makes an uneasy truce with agent Dan Santos, who introduces him to the gorgeous Darya Kuznetsova, the FBI’s liaison from the Russian Embassy. She convinces Michael that she can provide a valuable perspective.

It turns out that the perpetrator is most likely a Russian speaker from Kazakhstan. That news leads Michael and Darya to Russian immigrant neighborhoods where Darya’s cultural knowledge is an asset. Michael is impressed with her for standing up to the FBI team leader. She makes it clear that Russia has many more terrorist attacks to deal with than the U.S. does. Perhaps she has more than one kind of expertise to share. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the January 3, 2018 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the January 4 Naples, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Manhunt

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K-9 team is central focus in South Florida crime story

Scent of Murder, by James O. Born. Forge. 304 pages. Hardcover $25.99.

I don’t know if a new subgenre is blooming in crime fiction or not. Alex Kava’s recent “Breaking Creed” launched a new series about a dog trainer who does contract work for law enforcement agencies. Now James O. Born offers a new book that could very well also launch a series. It gives a detailed portrait of a K-9 unit operating within the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. Like Mr. Born’s earlier novels, this one capitalizes on his extensive experience as a law enforcement professional. SOMcover

Tim Hallett is rebuilding his career. He had lost his position in the prestigious Detective Bureau two years back by mishandling the case of a child molester. Retrained as part of a man/dog team, Tim has been rebalancing his life. Rocky, the Belgian Malinois with whom Tim is partnered, is more than a coworker; he has become an important part of Tim’s life. Along with his young son, the divorced father has created a new family.

Mr. Born’s sensitive handling of the relationship between man and dog is superb. This is a bond of true respect, mutual dependence, and responsibility. The author makes Rocky as real as any special-skill partner – a personality readers will come to know quite well. Certainly this is a book for dog-lovers, but those who aren’t canine fans can thoroughly enjoy it. I know I did.

There is a murderer out there kidnapping and abusing teenage girls before killing them. One girl manages to survive the perpetrator’s worst intentions and has been rescued by the K-9 team. Others are in harm’s way. Suspense is built by alternating the point of view. Most often, we are given Tim’s perspective, sometimes that of another one of the human K-9 team members. We also enter the mind of the perpetrator, Junior, whose impulses are out of control and whose planning is meticulous.

And (are you ready for this?) sometimes we are given Rocky’s point of view. At first, I found this device disturbing – a bit too much Scooby-Doo. However, after a while it grew on me and gained credibility.



Tim’s unit is comprised of three K-9 teams and a supervisory dog trainer. The police service dogs and their human partners have a range of skills that are put to good use in the pursuit of the criminal. Mr. Born draws the action scenes with authority and economy. He provides a detailed and engaging education in how such operations are managed.

The case that got Tim in trouble comes into play in the present situation and influences the direction of the investigation. Eventually, the clues lead in a surprising direction.

While the investigation plot provides the major center of interest, Tim’s relationship with his ex-wife and the possibility of a new love interest add stimulating complications and rounding of the protagonist’s character. Some of the subordinate characters are similarly elaborated, and all of the supporting cast members are carefully differentiated.

Another interesting aspect of “Scent of Murder” is the portrayal of interaction, competition, and strife within the working of the law enforcement community. Ambition, pettiness, vanity, and grandstanding all play a part in the world of law enforcement politics. These factors affect Tim’s progress in rebuilding his reputation among his professional associates. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the April 15, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the April 16 issues of the  Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter, and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Scent of Murder

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University of Central Florida Book Festival 2015


April 18, 2015 / 10:00am – 3:30pm


Featuring the James O. Born Workshop

James O. Born

Welcome to the 6th annual UCF Book Festival!

The UCF Book Festival is an annual literary event held in the spring at the University of Central Florida. The purpose of the UCF Book Festival is to bring a literary cultural experience to the Central Florida community from infants to seniors by:

  • Fueling interest and engagement in reading and literature
  • Showcasing accomplished and emerging authors

Each year the UCF Book Festival draws thousands of readers of all ages. The Festival features internationally recognized authors and illustrators, book signings and sales, exhibitors, cooking demonstrations, book appraisals, and literary activities for all ages. The Festival is hosted by UCF’s College of Education and Human Performance, in association with UCF’s Morgridge International Reading Center.

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Double trouble in James O’Neal’s forsaken Florida

“The Double Human,” by James O’Neal. Tor. 336 pages. $24.99.

With “The Double Human,” James O’Neal continues to unveil the distinctive dystopian world he first offered readers in his well-received “The Human Disguise” (2009, now in mass market paperback). Though the new book succeeds as a stand-alone sequel, the earlier title develops O’Neal’s futuristic premise more fully. Thus, while any reader can enjoy “The Double Human,” readers familiar with “The Human Disguise” will get more out of the new title than those who aren’t. 

O’Neal’s futuristic setting, a mere twenty years into the future, is also in the aftermath of nuclear devastation, climate change, and widespread disease. It’s a gray world with crumbling roads, abandoned cities, and barely functioning government services. Dade County is now the Miami Quarantine Zone, officially outside of the United States, where lawless predators threaten settlers or detainees who would rebuild and attempt to care for the remaining population.

North of the Zone’s border is the Lawton District often patrolled by combat veteran Tom Wilner, a detective with the severely understaffed United Florida Police. Southwest Florida, from Naples to Sarasota, has been reclaimed by nature and largely depopulated: some diehard holdouts hang on there, along with vagabond settlers who cherish privacy, simplicity, and independence. 

And everywhere there are criminals, not all of whom are human. The population includes two rival humanoid clans with superior strength, miraculous recuperative powers, and  long lives resulting from an extremely slow aging process. Originally from Eastern Europe, these humanoids have birthed offspring who in many cases are ignorant of their genetic differences from the human population.  In “The Human Disguise,” we learn that Tom Wilner had been married to such a humanoid and is raising hybrid children.

Wilner is a thorough dedicated and highly skilled cop who needs to overachieve in the face of diminished law enforcement resources and infrastructure breakdown at every level. In a Florida bereft of sunshine and thus of its traditional economic life, Wilner finds himself in pursuit of a mysterious serial killer whose earliest murder goes back 50 years. Because the victims have puncture wounds on their necks, the killer is called “The Vampire.” He seems unstoppable.

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 1-7, 2010 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the September 2-8 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – James O’Neal pdf

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