Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Review: Strong Vengeance by Jon Land

Texas Range Caitlin Strong has a new job. She’s working a desk at the Ranger office because of a high school shoot-out where an innocent boy will never play football again. Caitlin had a choice. Shoot the boy in the shoulder and get the one with the machine gun or let more people be shot.

That the shoot-out happened at Dylan’s school has a lot to do with why Caitlin was there in the first place and it is a moment she will regret and will color her actions throughout the rest of the book.

She’s responsible for Dylan and for Luke while Cort Wesley Masters is in jail in Mexico. Caitlin is all the boy have to protect and care for them, and she does care, so much she takes them on a fishing trip down in the Gulf that ends the way most of Caitlin’s life ends—in death. What she and the boys find on that jack-up rig will force Caitlin to face the inevitable changes in her life and what means most to her. She gets to help solve a murder that happened 30 years ago that her father and grandfather were forced to stop investigating and uncover Jean Lafitte’s legendary treasure. Just another day on the Texas Rangers.

Caitlin continues to evolve and grow in Jon Land’s latest episode of Caitlin and her gun in Strong Vengeance. At the end of the case and the book, Caitlin decides what’s best for her now and in the long run and makes a big decision.

In a family of Texas Rangers with a legacy that dates back to the beginning of the Rangers and her grandfather raising her to know and respect justice and guns, what else could Caitlin be but the first female Texas Ranger. Being good with a gun is second nature, and Caitlin is often accused of shooting first and asking questions later; readers know differently. Caitlin doesn’t have to ask the questions because she knows the answers ahead of time.

The strength of Strong Vengeance is in its characters, not the least of which is Cort Wesley Masters and D.W. Tepper. History and chemistry are strong motivators. What really motivates Caitlin is not just her sense of justice but love. She loves what she does and isn’t happy about being tied to a desk, but Captain D. W. Tepper has to leash Hurricane Caitlin somehow. D. W. is willing to let her loose when the situation demands and the dire situation in Strong Vengeance makes it necessary for Caitlin to reach beyond category 5. How else can the Texas Rangers deal with the massacre of a jack-up oil rig’s crew and the potential for long term damage to the ecology and death and lingering disease for every American when a home-grown terrorist plot is uncovered? The murder of three fraternity boys on Galveston Island Caitlin’s father and grandfather were ordered to stop investigating makes it doubly interesting and even more necessary for Caitlin to solve.

Strong Vengeance shows Caitlin going up against another high powered female law officer and in softer moments with Dylan and Luke that show the wide range of emotions and characterizations that demonstrate just how far the Caitlin Strong novels are ahead of the thriller series pack. There’s something for everyone: mystery, gunfights, terrorists, clock ticking down to the end of days, history, buried treasure, and Caitlin at her best and worst in what may be her last gunfight. General Paz makes a few well chosen appearances and offers his philosophical take as well. What more could you want?

I've been reading and reviewing the Caitlin Strong novels since the beginning and I wonder if there will be any more. I have a strong hope that circumstances and Caitlin's need to get to the bottom of whatever conundrum needs digging out will bring her back, but the stage is set for a graceful exit. Caitlin's father and grandfather quit the rangers eventually and so must Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. Time passes too quickly to focus all energy on one thing when there is so much more to life, a fact that Caitlin realizes.

If this is farewell, it has been a great ride and Jon Land has given me hours of pleasure and a trunk load of thoughts to ponder. Well done, Jon.  

Strong Vengeance won't be released until July 17, 2012. Be sure to reserve your copy early. This one will disappear quickly.