Strong Light of Day (Caitlin Strong Novels)
Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong has dealt with criminals, terrorists, and would-be masterminds in the past, but she’s never encountered something like this. As a group of schoolchildren goes missing while camping, and reports of strange activity on several farms leaves entire herds of cattle decimated with no clear cause. Does it have something to do with the congressman threating to ruin Caitlin’s career? Or the millionnaire industrialist set to make millions in oil revenues?
Caitlin’s investigation will take her thirty years into the past, as she uncovers a case her father worked involving a diabolical Russian syndicate, one with dire consequences for the United States and Soviet Union alike. And by the time this case is done, perhaps even Hurricane Caitlin herself will fall to darkness before the Strong Light of Day dawns.
Every franchise, no matter how brief or how long-running, has that moment where that perilous balance between the noteworthy threat and the intrepid hero is lost, and the scales tip too much toward one or the other. Either the threat becomes too massive or dangerous for the protagonist to realistically resolve in a few hundred pages, or the threat disappoints and stumbles before the might and craftiness of the unstoppable juggernaut that is the hero.
Thankfully, the Caitlin Strong series has yet to lose this tightrope walk. Strong Light of Day wanders farther afield than previous installments in the series — this is easily the most science fiction-infused entry thus far, despite the fairly high-tech terrorist plots from the previous two novels — but the book never feels off-kilter or unbalanced. Sure, the threat is wide-ranging and unlike anything Caitlin has faced before, but not irrationally so.
Although Land explores the scientific side of thrillers more in this novel, that doesn’t mean he neglects the smaller fantasy touches that add so much color to his narrative. The ongoing spiritual evolution of the enigmatic Guillermo Paz is a particular highlight, and it’s always fun to share more of Cort Wesley’s banter with his ghostly companion Leroy.
Strong Light of Day crams a lot into 350 pages or so, enhancing a globe-spanning criminal plot with several dark twists, historical parallels with deep ties to the protagonists, a dash of sci-fi, a sprinkling of the fantastic, and plenty of gun play for the die-hard Texas Rangers enthusiasts in the readership.
Heck, even the minor characters continue to evolve and grow (Lord help me, I even started to like Jones by the end of this one). Like Caitlin Strong herself, Land doesn’t leave anyone behind.