Strong Cold Dead
One woman the Texas law enforcement does not want to contend with is Caitlin Strong. A lone ranger who comes from a distinctive generation of Texas Rangers, Caitlin is a “genuine force of nature,” marching to the beat of her own drum regardless of legalities. Caitlin receives an anonymous tip about her friend’s son, who is protesting against oil drilling at a Comanche reservation. Caitlin is aware that the protest is a mere symptom of greater problems in connection with the reservation. Wary of unfurling trouble, her fears intensify with the enigmatic deaths of a mutilated foreman and twenty-two people from a local diner. But Caitlin has a hunch that something sinister is brewing beyond oil possession, especially when she learns that ISIS has an interest in the reservation.
The eighth novel in the Caitlin Strong series, Jon Land’s latest is nothing less than a chilling thriller. Set in the heart of Texas, Land’s plot initially zeroes in on oil drilling at a Comanche reservation. Obviously, there is more at play than just oil. But before his narrative takes off, Land starts with a bit of history: the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty. A continual theme in the Strong series, Land introduces an array of historical facts and figures that are all somehow connected with the Texas Rangers. Unique to Land’s storyline is its timing to current protests taking place in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock (Sioux) reservation. Although his narrative heads in a slightly different direction, Land highlights pertinent issues such as corporate greed and Native American territorial rights, to name a few. While drawing attention to the history behind the Bakken pipeline in North Dakota, Land weaves in a flurry of historic figures. Examples include outlaw Curly Bill Brocius and the Earp family, Stephen Austin–the unofficial creator of the Texas Rangers–Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, and oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller.
Featuring Caitlin Strong–a spunky, no-nonsense Texas Ranger–Land shapes his main character by surrounding her with a host of foils. Caitlin’s annoying questioning and often seemingly disconnected statements may remind seasoned readers of the beloved gumshoe played by Peter Falk from the long-running TV series called Columbo. Yet within Caitlin’s hardened persona, there is a weak side to her guise as she bemoans actions from her past. One character that helps her get over her guilt-ridden feelings is her supposed boyfriend, whom she affectionately refers to as “Cort Wesley.” A blend of highly developed and complex characters, Land’s cast covers the good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. Alternating present and past scenes among his colorful characters, Land aptly places them within a quick-paced plot divided into ten sections that are replete with short cliffhanging chapters. Land’s mix of fact and fiction reaches a wide audience—a perfect balance to whet the literary appetite of both historical fiction and mystery aficionados, as well as those who are not terribly interested in Old West history. Seriously!