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Strong Light of Day by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong Light of DayStrong Light of Day is another great novel in the Caitlin Strong series; I won’t say best because each book is the best in its own right, since this is without question the finest thriller series going today. But this latest entry is both the most complex and timely. Indeed, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine opening up the newspaper not long down the road and spying a headline about the nation’s food supply under attack. Agro-terrorism, in other words, in Strong Light of Day at the hands of Russians who never stopped fighting the Cold War. Indeed, reading books serves as a pointed reminder that there are people out there icily committed to destroying our way of life.

Before we even get that far, though, Caitlin is thrown into the middle of the disappearance/kidnapping of thirty-plus high school kids from a posh Houston prep school that includes the youngest boy of none other than her outlaw boy friend Cort Wesley Masters and her own surrogate son. Before she can get very far with that investigation, though, she’s summoned to the scene of a ranch where a herd of cattle have been picked clean to the gone. The fact that these two apparently random events are connected is never in doubt, and in this case that connection is the powder keg Caitlin finds herself trying to diffuse before the whole country goes boom!

Oh, did I forget to mention a prologue featuring Navy SEALs searching an Afghan cave in 2002 and uncovering relics of a Soviet plot al-Qaeda was intent on resurrecting? How about the fact that we’re treated to a terrific historical subplot that features Caitlin’s Texas Ranger father and Cort Wesley’s criminal father teaming up to take on Russian bad guys in their original Cold War incarnation? Fast-forward to the present and the residue of that plot Caitlin and Cort Wesley uncover we realize is linked to both the missing kids and dead cattle. Fortunately for Caitlin, her King Kong-ish protector, Guillermo Paz, is waiting to take on this especially loathsome lot of Godzilla-like villains, led by billionaire oilman Calum Dane. Dane is a certifiable sociopath who’s been dodging lawsuits and setting fire to his own petrochemical plants to cover his skullduggerous tracks. When even that proves insufficient to quell his evil urges, he turns his ire on a young man crippled by exposure to one of his pesticides, the same pesticide that holds another deadly secret it’s up to Caitlin to uncover.

Like all the Caitlin Strong tales, Strong Light of Day is a lot of things, but mostly it’s just great fun, so much so that you simply don’t want it to end, even though it does in spectacularly satisfying fashion in thriller fiction’s most original and daring climax in recent memory. The perfect finish to a nonstop, heart-pounding, no-holds-barred book that doesn’t let up even the slightest until the very last loose end is tied up tight. This is the best thriller of the year and one of the best you will ever read, a tour de force of reading entertainment at its very best.

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