The Seven Sins and Black Scorpion by Jon Land
With his 2008 novel, The Seven Sins, and his newest release, Black Scorpion, author Jon Land brings Fabrizio Boccardi’s inimitable Las Vegas hero Michael “The Tyrant” Tiranno to life in a series of pulse-pounding adventures.
Michael Tiranno, also known as The Tyrant, is the imposing force behind The Seven Sins, the most luxurious resort and casino in Las Vegas. Born into poverty in rural Italy, Michael – then Michele Nunziato – was taken under the wing of mafia powerhouse Don Lucciano after the murder of his family, and from there he became Michael Tiranno: Italian for "tyrant". A larger-than-life persona across the pages, the character first appeared in Jon Land’s The Seven Sins in collaboration with The Tyrant's creator, Italian investor Fabrizio Boccardi. While "The Tyrant" is in some ways Boccardi's alter-ego, he’s also something of a superhero for the Vegas set - James Bond meets Tony Stark with a Sin City vibe. Boccardi's creation comes to literary life through author Jon Land's timeless skill, resulting in a high-octane thriller that keeps readers on the edge of their seat.
While The Seven Sins introduces readers to the man behind the moniker, Black Scorpion reveals how Michael Tiranno is finally able to fully realize himself as The Tyrant. When his casino is once again under threat, Michael’s investigation leads him to an Eastern European organization that even the most well-informed government entities thought to be a myth: Black Scorpion. And as Michael works to discover the identity of whomever controls Black Scorpion, he’ll find that the sinister organization’s endgame hits shockingly close to home. Caught up in the danger is Michael's girlfriend Scarlett Swan, a skilled archaeologist on the cusp of a discovery that could change the course of history and unravel the secret behind the medallion Michael has treasured since it was handed down to him by his father. Inscribed with a Latin script that translates as "To Dream, To Dare, To Win", the medallion has become something of a good luck totem to Michael; he even attributes the slogan of his casino and business brand to the Latin words. But he soon discovers that the mysterious piece of gold may hold greater power and value than he could ever imagine, and it could drive some men to murder at the chance of possessing it.
Land captures the drama and decadence of Vegas superbly in both The Seven Sins and Black Scorpion, the pages humming with the vibrations of a city steeped in decadence and mystery. In a style reminiscent of his other books, he takes the reader across time and into the throes of history as he weaves a story that’s both intricate in its details and lightning fast in its pace. He utilizes short chapters – sometimes pages long, sometimes only a few paragraphs – in a way that makes the reader feel as though they’re locked into a film reel, seeing scenes play out at the speed of a thrill ride. And throughout the different points in history, there’s one thing that connects the story as a whole: the medallion. In The Seven Sins readers are first taken back to the time of Julius Caesar where Caesar acquires the very medallion from Cilician pirates, while other points in the story hint that Michael’s gold piece may actually have gotten the Midas touch. In The Seven Sins readers also meet a modern-day pirate with her sights set on the gold: the elusive and fascinating Raven Kahn. After revelations are made at the end of that book, she returns to the story in Black Scorpion as well, this time with a vengeance. The central plight at the heart of Black Scorpion is the global devastation of human-trafficking and it’s in her empowered determination to free enslaved women and children that we see the true heart of Raven take hold.
Joining Michael on his adventures in both novels are his greatest allies both in the business of Vegas and, it would seem, in the business of saving the world: whip-smart lawyer Naomi Burns and warrior-turned-bodyguard Alexander Koursaris. While Land has a knack for surrounding his protagonists with colorful supporting characters, Naomi and Alexander are especially intriguing; they’re both well drawn and terrific fun to read about. As for The Tyrant himself, it’s no wonder that Boccardi has also brokered deals for comic book and graphic novel interpretations of the Vegas would-be superhero, as well as talk of a film that would adapt both novels for the big screen. Tiranno is an exuberantly likable character with panache as well as heart, equal parts ruthless grit and a do-good attitude; under Jon Land’s literary handling, the character becomes a worthy center for a collection of explosive adventures that will hopefully continue for a long time to come.