Strong Enough to Die
May 30 2010
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". . . a study in the fine gradations of shadow between black and white . . ."
Complex and masterfully plotted thriller that defies stereotyping.
Caitlin Strong is a third generation Texas Ranger and the first female Ranger. Five years ago, she and her partner were gunned down in the desert near the Mexican border by smugglers led by an American. Cort Wesley Masters’ blood placed him at the scene and he went to prison still claiming his innocence. There was no doubt that Masters was a killer and he worked for a powerful crime family. His guilt was a bygone conclusion. Or was it?
Five years after her partner died, and after having resigned from the Rangers, Caitlin interviews for a position as a counselor at a center where victims of torture receive therapy to help them deal with the scars of their ordeals. Her first patient is her husband, who was reported to have died in Iraq. He’s suffering from amnesia and doesn’t recognize her or himself.
At the same time, Masters has been released from prison because new DNA evidence proved he wasn’t responsible for Caitlin’s partner’s death. He wants revenge for the years he has lost and he is gunning for the ranger who arrested him – Caitlin Strong.
Shadow operatives want Caitlin’s husband back and their orders are to wipe out everyone in the center. The clock is ticking and the fate and safety of America is in the hands of an ex-Texas Ranger and the enemies gunning for her.
Thrillers are fast-paced with high stakes, sharp twists and complex plots. In that respect Strong Enough to Die does not disappoint. However, Jon Land adds so much more his thrillers that set them apart from even the best thrillers. Land creates characters that straddle the line between good and evil and makes them not only believable, but also sympathetic without resorting to psychobabble or sociological apology. Instead, Strong Enough to Die is a study in the fine gradations of shadow between black and white that challenges the preconceived notion that evil and good are easy to detect.
Land is a master storyteller with a keen understanding of the forces that create intricate and authentic characters on both sides of the law with the potential for good and evil that transcend the common definitions of justice and honor. By contrasting historical fact with modern day sensibilities and engaging characters, Strong Enough to Die is the embodiment of what a memorable thriller is and should be.
The only crack in an otherwise flawless gem is the too convenient death of a pivotal character. Even though that plot point was weak, Jon Land’s Strong Enough to Die is the best thriller I have read this year.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell