PICT book reviews

Review of Strong as Steel by Jon Land

It says right on the cover that Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong series has won eleven major awards, and it is easy to see why. When I read the tenth installment in the series, Strong as Steel, I was reminded of a coyote – lean, fast, and clever. The book gripped me right away with images of a ghost ship, a trope I find particularly compelling. What does the ghost ship off the coast of Turkey have to do with murders in Mexico and Texas? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Suffice it to say, the ending is everything you wish it was, kind of a reverberating howl into the night, if I may be indulged with that metaphor.

Caitlin Steel, the eponymous heroine of the series, is the latest in a long line of Texas Rangers and we hear about her grandfather and father as well. Flashbacks are told as if they were unfolding in real time, which is a nice touch. One can’t but hope Ms. Strong will have a child to carry on the family business but, as she is firmly ensconced in the trope of the strong-willed and fiercely independent heroine, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope for that. These books aren’t about romance, they’re about a sharp-shooter with a strong eye for justice.

The other characters are interesting and mostly men. The author draws great character sketches and it is also easy to visualize the scenes in the novel. Sometimes the interpersonal relationships seem flimsy, but I’d say that’s a function of the main character’s isolation due to her own self-sufficiency. One doesn’t get the sense she had a terribly mothering upbringing, and that masculine aloofness somewhat defines her. Still, I loved Ms. Strong like I love the idea of the coyote: wily, lonesome, and resourceful. She’s fully in line with a new breed of female protagonist that reads more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing – or, a coyote. You won’t regret having this installment on your shelves. It’s a compelling and satisfying read.


Strong As Steel

by Jon Land

on Tour April 22 – May 25, 2019

Synopsis:

Strong As Steel by Jon Land

Tough-as-nails Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong returns in this electrifying ninth installment of the series, by USA Today bestselling author Jon Land

1994: Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a mass murder on a dusty freight train linked to a mysterious, missing cargo for which no record exists.

The Present: His daughter, fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself on the trail of that same cargo when skeletal remains are found near an excavation site in the Texas desert. She’s also dealing with the aftermath of a massacre that claimed the lives of all the workers at a private intelligence company on her watch.

These two cases are connected by a long buried secret, one that men have killed and died to protect. Caitlin and her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters must prove themselves to be as strong as steel to overcome a bloody tide that has been rising for centuries.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: April 23rd 2019
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0765384671 (ISBN13: 9780765384676)
Series: Caitlin Strong #10
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Dallas, Texas

“You want to tell me what I’m doing here again?” Caitlin Strong said to Captain Bub McNelly of the Texas Criminal Investigations Division.

McNelly, who favored string ties and shiny cowboy boots, turned to the quartet of figures in equally shiny windbreakers milling behind him in the makeshift staging area, who looked more like businessmen. Caitlin had heard he was a descendant of the famed Texas Ranger captain Leander McNeely, a man who’d once told the whole of the U.S. government to go to hell, but wasn’t too keen on the freedom with which Rangers still operated today.

“Special Response Teams hang their hat on being multi-jurisdictional,” McNelly told her. “Consider yourself the representative Ranger.”

“Since when does an SRT look more comfortable holding briefcases than firearms?”

“I need to tell you that computers are the real weapons these days?” McNelly asked her. “And those boys accompanying us are forensic experts who know how to fire back.”

“Just two guns, yours and mine, backing them up,” Caitlin noted.

“I don’t need a computer to do the math, Ranger,” McNelly said, while the four techs wearing windbreakers hovered behind them in front of the elevator. “You and I serve the warrant on the geek squad upstairs and let the experts do their thing with brains instead of bullets. How hard can it be?”

They were about to serve a search warrant on an information technology firm on the 42nd floor of the Chase Tower, the city’s tallest building. Caitlin had served plenty of more “traditional” search warrants in her time on the likes of biker gangs, drug dealers, and various other suspects. The kind of service that found her backed up by guns and plenty of them, instead of briefcases and backpacks.

A chime sounded ahead of the elevator door sliding open.

“In my experience,” Caitlin said, stepping in first to position herself so the door didn’t close again before the SRT computer forensics techs were inside, “it pays to have brains and bullets.”

McNelly smiled thinly. “That’s why you’re here, Ranger. You were specifically requested for the job.”

“By who?”

“I don’t know. Orders came from the top down.

The cab began its ascent. If this were a Ranger operation, as opposed to CID, Caitlin would have insisted on securing the space in question prior to bringing up the civilians. Because that was clearly what these personnel in ill-fitting windbreakers pulled from a rack were. Civilians.

“Get your warrant ready, Captain,” she told McNelly, as the cab whisked past the floors between “L” and “42.”

He flapped the tri-folded document I the air between them. “Got it right here.”

“What’s CTP stand for again?” Caitlin asked, referring to the acronym of the company on which they were about to serve the warrant.

“Communications Technology Providers. I thought I told you that.”

“Maybe you did, but you never told me what the company did to get on the Criminal Investigation Division’s radar. I’m guessing that’s because somebody ordered you to take me along for the ride. All well and good in this political world we live in, until something goes bad.”

McNelly flashed Caitlin a smirk, as a chime sounded to indicate the elevator had reached its desired floor. “I can tell you this much, Ranger. The suspects we’re after here don’t know a gun from their own assholes. Worst thing they can do is infect us with a computer virus.”

He led the way through the open cab door, without waiting for Caitlin to respond. She exited next, followed in a tight bunch by those four computer techs in their windbreakers which made it look like they’d stuck their arms through Hefty bags.

The doors along the hall were uniformly glass, sleek and modern, some frosted. According to the building layout Caitlin had studied, Communications Technology Providers occupied a pair of adjoining office suites adding up to nearly five thousand square feet in total. One was a corner office, meaning at least a portion of those suites would enjoy wraparound windows and plenty of natural light.

Caitlin had just reflexively shoved her jacket back behind the holster housing her SIG Sauer P-226 nine-millimeter pistol, when the glass double-door entrance to Communications Technology Providers ruptured behind a fusillade of gunfire.

***

Excerpt from Strong As Steel by Jon Land. Copyright © 2019 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Jon Land

Jon Land is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of 50 books, including ten titles in the critically acclaimed Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, the last of which, STRONG TO THE BONE, won both the 2017 American Book Fest and 2018 International Book Award for Best Mystery. The next title in the series, STRONG AS STEEL, will be published in April. MANUSCRIPT FOR marked his second effort writing as Jessica Fletcher for the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, and he has also teamed with Heather Graham for a new sci-fi series starting with THE RISING. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Catch Up With Our Jon Land at:
jonlandbooks.com, Goodreads, Twitter @jondland, & Facebook!

 

 

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Cy Wyss

I am an author currently residing in the Indianapolis area. I write and review mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction. Sign up for my newsletter at right and get a free short story.

2 Comments

  • Avatar
    Jon Land

    I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful review. I especially enjoyed your very shrewd, sensitive and insightful comments about Caitlin herself. You’ve encapsulated her as a true flawed, isolated Western hero. As I recall, this is your first experience with the series, so it looks like we’re off to a great start. Also I love the way the book was presented on your site, particularly that awesome header at the top! Many thanks! Jon

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