I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is back, pursuing justice the Ranger way. She takes on the case of a Mexican girl on the run from white slavers. For Caitlin, the case evokes memories of her legendary grandfather’s run with the Rangers, even as it brings her face-to-face with a serial killer who’s left a trail of bodies along the Mexico border.
Pursuing the killer brings Caitlin to a sleepy Texas town suddenly riddled by violence and to the site of a major water find. The connection between these two disparate places lies buried beneath the plains of West Texas: a deadly weapon with the potential to give a new enemy the means to terrorize the United States.
Her grandfather’s past collides violently with Caitlin’s present as she fights to save her world in the same border town where he fought to save his. Caitlin will learn, just as he did, that only strong justice can save the day. But this time, outmanned and outgunned, even that may not be enough to keep Caitlin Strong—and the country itself—alive.(source)
I never thought I would be the kind of person to enjoy a western, especially one that takes place in the modern era. I love historical fiction, so if I were to read a western, I might be able to bring myself to read one that took place in the Old West - I love Little House on the Prairie, which is definitely not a western, but it's in the same setting, so maybe that would help if I tried to read a traditional one. But I've never been much interested in gun-slinging vigilantes out on the frontier. One of my brothers, Peter, loves that stuff. He actually owns several seasons of Bonanza and he'll watch any John Wayne movie that comes on AMC. But not me. Which is why I'm surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did - especially considering how comparably apathetic I was to its predecessor, Strong Enough to Die.
I think the history connection in this book was the key to my enjoyment. In Strong Justice, Jon Land picks up Caitlin Strong's story several months after she and her unlikely sidekick Cort Wesley Masters have successfully defeated Garza and his allies in Mexico. Their relationship is uncertain at the start of this, as Cort Wesley is still adjusting to his role as an actual dad and Caitlin is having some commitment issues. They're forced to reunite when Cort Wesley's son, Dylan, befriends a Mexican teenager named Maria who's actually escaped a sex trafficking ring and is now on the run, desperately trying to hide from a terrifying man named Macerio who's trying to get her back. But as it turns out, the events that Caitlin and Cort Wesley are trying to deal with actually has roots with the Texas Rangers of Caitlin's grandfather's generation. Earl Strong became a Texas Ranger legend and some events in the early days of his career wind up having pretty major consequences for Caitlin to deal with. I was so impressed by how Jon Land managed to tie everything together - he even ended up bringing back villain-turned-saint Guillermo Paz, who feels compelled to save Caitlin's life again. All the various aspects of this book seem super disconnected, but Land managed to bring them all together in way that actually made sense. It's mind-boggling to think how time-consuming it must have been to not only write this 350 page novel, but also to take the time to connect all the dots in a way that made sense.
This impressive accomplishment made up for the lack of character development, which had bothered me in Strong Enough to Die. Upon reflection, I've realized that there's only so much that an author can focus on. There is no such thing as a perfect book - even my favorites, like Gone With the Wind and Anna Karenina, have their flaws. In this series, Land focuses on creating action, suspense, and an incredibly intricate plot. As a result, character development beyond what's necessary for the plot falls through. But truthfully, as much as I adore intricate characters, they're not really all that necessary for a book like this. And this book did have a bit more than the first - Cort Wesley and Caitlin have to evaluate their relationship, and in the process they have to reveal some emotional vulnerability on both parts, which was neat to see. This was enough to satisfy some of my desires to really know these characters.
I think that this series is a really great one. You don't really see too many westerns anymore, and I think it's awesome that Jon Land evolved this series so that it fit the interests of a modern audience. It's not one that I would have chosen to read on my own, but I'm really grateful that Jon Land was generous enough to send me copies of the books so that I could read it. I would have missed out on a really cool story. If you like mysteries and strong female characters with a lot of Southern sass, I think you should give the Caitlin Strong series a try. You definitely need to start with Strong Enough to Die - this book will make absolutely no sense if you try to read it first. But once you get to this one, I think that you'll really enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review from the author, but in no way did this influence my review of the book.