Strong to the Bone
Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong has a knack for solving tough problems with her wits, her years of experience, and the gun in her hand. As one of the most feared law officers in Texas, Strong has a reputation for seeing justice served and leaving chaos in her wake. But when she tries to solve a rape case with unexpected ties to her past, she finds herself battling an unexpected new foe for the first time: doubt.
Meanwhile, her long-time partner, a gunslinger named Cort Wesley Masters, also tends to find trouble around every corner. When his son runs afoul of some white supremacists looking to stir up trouble and throw their weight around, Cort Wesley uncovers something far more sinister lurking nearby: an entire town hidden from the world, the private domain of the cunning Armand Fisker.
Fisker’s plans go far beyond hassling immigrants, though. With a corrupt pharmaceutical CEO in his pocket, a virtual army of motorcycle-riding bigots, and a serious arsenal stockpiled, he might be the most dangerous man Caitlin and Cort have ever faced.
Strong to the Bone continues Land’s impressive string of topnotch mystery/thrillers, combing through current headlines to craft a story that feels incredibly relevant in today’s fractured political climate.
But Land goes beyond the buzzword-fueled main plotline and delves into an unexpected corner of Texas history, tying his modern-day threat to the darkest days of World War II and crafting a poignant example of that famous axiom: those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
Strong to the Bone feels like a Greek tragedy, a story steeped in family, vendettas, and ripples from the past coming back to haunt the present. Cort Wesley’s story especially really works, adding marvelous depth to the character that was more than welcome.
And, although Caitlin is also dealing with the past in an unexpectedly personal way, she, Cort Wesley, and their ally Guillermo Paz all have to deal with threats of a more spiritual nature. Each protagonist’s faith, character, and life choices are tested, adding to that sense of epic storytelling I mentioned above.
That grandiose style does have its drawbacks, though. The villain of the novel feels somewhat outclassed by the heroes, foreshadowing his inevitable defeat in ways that detracts a bit from the narrative. Although some of his allies give Caitlin an exciting run for her money, other characters feel like more bark than bite, succumbing to the heroic onslaught in underwhelmingly quick fashion.
Still, Strong to the Bone mixes modern boogeymen with historical elements to create a snappy, action-packed adventure worthy of Caitlin Strong, proving that no matter how diabolical the threat, the gun-toting heroes and antiheroes of Texas will be there to stop it dead in its tracks.