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Strong Enough to Die: A Caitlin Strong Novel    by Jon Land order for
Strong Enough to Die
by Jon Land
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jon Land (author of over two dozen action-adventure novels, including seven in his popular Ben Kamal/Danielle Barnea series and The Seven Sins: The Tyrant Ascending) launches a potent new series with Strong Enough to Die. It stars a tough yet vulnerable gun-toting heroine (Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong) and a deeply flawed but engaging hero (outlaw Cort Wesley Masters). The fascinating Texas Ranger lore scattered throughout the novel enriches it.

In a sense, the quote (by Texas Ranger Captain Bill MacDonald) that begins the book says it all: 'No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'.' That's what Ranger Caitlin Strong does (her partner on her back) in the shoot-out against superior forces that begins the story, and that's what she keeps on doing right up to the shoot-out against overwhelming odds that ends it.

In between, she seeks those who caused her partner's death, revealing her dark side in the process. She leaves the Rangers for a while and works at a Survivor Center for Victims of Torture, where she's deeply shocked by the identity of one of the patients (someone she believed dead) and even more so by the fact that he was brutalized by fellow Americans. Then a team of hit men, Special Ops types led by 'killing machine' Clayton, attacks the Center, killing everyone in their path.

The other series lead is a man who has lived his life on the wrong side of the law. Cort Wesley Masters was sent to prison by Caitlin who believed he was in charge of the men who killed her partner. Though he's killed many in wartime and afterwards, he was innocent in this case. When new DNA evidence exonerates him, he has one thing on his mind - revenge against the woman he believes framed him. He tracks Caitlin down to the Survivor Center, but ends up fighting on her side when he realizes that someone else set him up. But Cort Wesley has an Achilles heel - two sons he's long kept hidden from his enemies.

All the players in this action-packed thriller are larger than life. There's elusive Mexican drug lord Emiliato Valdez Garza - 'you see him, you're already dead.' There's a disturbing Big Brother technology, Fire Arrow, and Harmon Delladonne, the ruthless plutocrat who wields global security conglomerate MacArthur-Rain ('with a virtual monoplogy in areas of security and surveillance no one else had even considered') to increase his power. And there's former secret police colonel, Venezuelan Guillermo Paz - is he seeking redemption in the confessional or only playing games?

Don't start Strong Enough to Die late at night as it will keep you reading till the last page is reluctantly turned. Enjoy this high-octane action-thriller and look out for the second in an exciting and powerful series, Strong Justice.

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