Tom Doherty Associates
June 30, 2010
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". . . simply riveting."
Fast paced, character-driven blockbuster with verve.
Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and Cort Wesley Masters are back with guns blazing and emotions bruised. Caitlin offers herself in exchange for hostage children in a kidnapping of a Mexican government official gone terribly wrong at a hospital and takes out the bad guys in typical Old West style.
Meanwhile, Cort Wesley goes to New Orleans to face the Brancas and asks for back pay in order to get social services off his back so he can retain custody of his two sons. Showing his respectful and tender side, Cort Wesley goes out on the balcony to move Branca Sr. out of the harsh sun just as hit men come in the front door and take out Branca Jr.’s bodyguards. Masters responds by taking the .38 from Branca Sr.’s holster, stalks and kills the hit men, leaving a bill for services rendered.
Paz, the Venezuelan mercenary turned good guy, has been doing penance in the tarpaper, pallet and cardboard slums of Juarez but decides to return to Texas to protect Caitlin as she faces off with the Mexican mafia once again to find and end trafficking in young sex slaves.
As the fighters take their positions, guns loaded and cocked, the battle begins.
There is no doubt that Jon Land knows how to set a scene and get the adrenaline flowing fast and freely. Following the success of Strong Enough to Die, Caitlin Strong, fifth generation Texas Ranger, returns with one time enforcer for the Branca crime family, Cort Wesley Masters and Venezuelan mercenary Paz to take on the bad guys in Strong Justice and no bullets have been spared.
I did find Masters’ fortuitous move onto the balcony to get his old boss, now crippled by a stroke and outfitted with a .38, just as rival hit men come through the door and take out Frank, Jr.’s bodyguards a bit of a reach, but it was pure poetry as Masters took out all three hit men with only six shots in a hail of gunfire from three submachine guns. Land knows how to mainline adrenaline. It was no surprise that Ranger Strong would match Masters’ daring with her own. That is what makes Land’s Caitlin Strong novels a bit over the top and yet still engaging.
That is not to say that Land’s writing is melodramatic or lacking in style and finesse; he amply demonstrates both. Land’s meticulous research and skill in portraying the grittier side of law enforcement imparts authenticity. Strong Justice is quite simply riveting. His characters are well drawn, the dialogue memorable and pithy and the situations rise organically from a strong sense of literary integrity with an obvious nod to Saturday matinee serials.
After all, who else could write a romantic interlude between the lady Texas Ranger and the ex-enforcer and make it plausible without being overly sentimental?
“Thought you might’ve been pissed over what happened the last time we were together?”
“You mean, you breaking my nose?”
That is romance Old West and Jon Land style . . . and it works. Strong Justice is not to be missed.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell