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Strong at the Break by Jon Land

Strong at the BreakReviewed by Russell Ilg

Gunfighters may be a thing of the past, but Jon Land seems hell bent on resurrecting the mythos in his Caitlin Strong/Texas Ranger books. He hit the bulls-eye dead center in her first two adventures (Strong Enough to Die and Strong Justice) while outdoing even himself in the latest of what is unquestionably the greatest thriller series being written today.

In Strong at the Break Caitlin has to deal with Hells Angels, Indian drug dealers, white slavers, sinister government types and, for good measure, a radical right-wing militia plotting nothing less than a second Civil War. Once again, Land has penned an intense, thrilling, action-packed tale featuring the greatest gunfights I’ve ever read. Many novels are aptly called page-turners. But Strong at the Break gives so much more than any of its more recent competition, I’d call it a page-burner. That’s because you find yourself turning the pages so fast they nearly burn up from the speed. With so many twists and turns, coupled with a frantic nonstop pace, there’s just no time to come up for air. Strong at the Break’s short, snappy chapters flow smoothly from one to the next, each with an opening hook and closing cliffhanger. When you buy the book plan on a day or two of the greatest reading you will enjoy this summer, and you will not rest until the final smoking page is turned.
The breakneck plot aside, Land has set about creating compelling characters you feel you know and would love to meet. Starting with fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong herself, they stand against injustice which seems especially plentiful in Strong at the Break. Good thing that standing by her side once more is the former most wanted man in Texas, Cort Wesley Masters, father to two sons Caitlin treats as if they were own.

This time out Masters has his own reason to fight, that being the fact that one of those sons is kidnapped along a circuitous route that connects back to the Patriot Sun, that right-wing militia with its eyes on insurrection. To get the boy back, he and Caitlin are more than happy to take them and all comers including a Hells Angel gang running drugs over frozen rivers form Canada into the United States and a violent white slavery ring operating in the more familiar reaches of Mexico. To this already intense mix, Land adds an intricately developed flashback subplot that takes us into a parallel war waged by Caitlin’s father Jim Strong against the father of the book’s crazed villain and Patriot Sun leader, Malcolm Arno. Caitlin, in fact, was there when her dad killed his in the prologue, and the book builds to an ultimate confrontation between these two bitter adversaries who first glimpsed each other as teenagers. The result here is a keen appreciation of history, providing an understanding of what makes the Rangers in general, and Strongs in particular, the most feared lawmen anywhere.

This is the best thriller of the year hands down. A book you don’t want to end and will leave you clamoring for Caitlin Strong’s return in the next installment which can’t come soon enough.

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