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Strong Rain Falling (Caitlin Strong) by Jon Land
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765331502
Date: 13 August 2013 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong investigates the brutal slaying of five Mexican children in Willow Creek, an abandoned Texas border town. In 1911, an army of vicious drug dealers, esos Demonios, massacred this town's entire population in order to blaze an opium trail into the states. The present-day slaying, Caitlin learns, is part of an act of bloody vengeance that will endanger the lives of Cort Wesley Masters' two sons, Dylan and Luke Torres. Monstrously evil men cut a swath of destruction across Texas as they attempt to murder the boys. Unfortunately, the vengeance won't stop there. A devious plan has been set in motion to cripple America's technology, catapulting the country back into the Dark Ages for future generations. Anarchy will reign as millions perish.

Caitlin Strong's nickname, according to her boss, Captain D.W. Tepper, is Hurricane. She has a nasty habit of bringing a whirlwind of death and destruction to bad guys wherever she goes, whether it's a fair in Providence, Rhode Island, or a high school lacrosse game in San Antonio, Texas. Believe me, Jon Land's latest action adventure, Strong Rain Falling is a hurricane of endless destruction. Readers will need scientific calculators in order to accurately estimate the dead bodies in this novel. Caitlin is described as the most famous gunfighter in Texas, whereas her boyfriend, Cort Wesley, is the most famous outlaw in Texas. Together, the two of them rack up quite a body count on both sides of the Rio Grande. They are quick to draw their weapons and their bullets never miss; they are like superhero comic book characters.

Caitlin and Cort Wesley appear to be non-destructible, which corrodes my already tenuous suspension of disbelief. Also endangering this suspension is Cort Wesley's supernatural ability to see and speak with a friend, Leroy Epps, who died in Huntsville Prison where they were both incarcerated. These episodes were probably meant to add dark humor to a plot that is already macabre enough. As with his previous novel, Strong Vengeance, Land has created some extremely despicable characters that are best referred to as human monsters. We have the wealthiest, most powerful woman in Mexico, Anna Callas Guardo, and her imprisoned brother Locaro. She is beautiful; he is horrifyingly ugly. However, they are both ruthlessly evil, as though each was born without a soul. They share a history of having been horribly abused as children.

Another extremely unusual character worth mentioning is the seven-foot giant Colonel Guillermo Paz. In order to make retribution for having once been a murderous assassin in a drug cartel, he has taken it upon himself to become Caitlin's personal bodyguard. Somehow, despite his incredible size, he manages to swiftly appear in the nick of time to save the life of Caitlin or Cort Wesley. Meanwhile, by means of going to confessions with a Catholic priest and attending nighttime philosophy classes at San Antonio College, Paz is searching for the meaning of his life. I found these scenes annoying rather than enlightening. Personally, I believe he has an ego as big as Texas, as indicated by his enjoyment of publicly humiliating and ridiculing his professors; he will never obtain redemption until he loses this ego.

Despite the outlandish, James Bond-like abilities of some of its characters, no one can argue that Jon Land's Strong Rain Falling is a rollercoaster ride of non-stop action adventure with gratuitous violence galore. (Where's the gratuitous sex?) Like a rollercoaster ride, I was sad when it was over and couldn't wait to get on another one. (I may have to read one of his previous novels.)

Thanks to Land, Texas remains a wild frontier. He also treats his readers to a history lesson, though slightly askew, of how drugs first entered our country. Caitlin's great-grandfather, William Ray Strong, and grandfather, Earl Strong, both Texas Rangers, attempted to halt the beginning of a drug war that still rages today with increasing fury. Because the plot involves events occurring in the past as well as the present, this novel could be categorized as a historical mystery.

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