In this fast-paced narrative, readers race from the mysterious death of 286 citizens of a sleepy Texas border town to its tragic history from 100-years earlier, then leap to the current opioid crisis that has ravaged not only Texas but the entire country.
Fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is back in “Strong From the Heart” (Forge Books), the 11th book in the Caitlin Strong series. In this Lone Star thriller, bestselling author Jon Land spins a tall Texas tale of mysterious murder, the opioid crisis, and a Texas Ranger’s fictitious ride with young Pancho Villa.
After Homeland Security agents find a mailman wandering through the Texas desert, they discover what spooked him—the residents of Camino Pass all died in their sleep. Authorities call Caitlin to investigate what happened and why. Meanwhile, in Houston, an emergency room contacts Cort Wesley Masters with the call every parent dreads—his son Luke is close to death from an opioid overdose.
As Caitlin puts the puzzle pieces together to determine what killed residents of Camino Pass, she learns that her great-grandfather—Texas Ranger William Ray Strong—had traveled to Camino Pass in 1898 to escort the young fugitive Pancho Villa to the county seat in Presidio. But the two ended up hunting the men who kidnapped Camino Pass children and enslaved them in Mexico. And Caitlin discovers that her great-grandfather’s ride with Pancho Villa was interconnected with the war on drugs.
Cort Wesley is determined to find out who sold opioids to his son and begins a mission to identify the dealers and terminate their enterprise. Caitlin’s investigation into the death of everyone in Camino Pass and Cort Wesley’s search for the opioid distributors overlap into a national conspiracy that terrifies them both. And now the battle is personal.
Caitlin, Cort Wesley and the other players in the series—Venezuelan Colonel turned Homeland Security operative Guillermo Paz, Ranger Captain D.W. Tepper, and Caitlin’s assassin half-sister Nola Delgado—must work together to uncover and stop the most powerful opioid network that has infiltrated America—with high-level Government officials at the top of the distribution chain, reminiscent of the US government’s involvement in the Air America drug scandal of the 1970s.
Land wanted to base the book on current headlines, “something people were talking about and fretting over. A genuine crisis. Like opioids.”
Each part of the book begins with historical excerpts about the history of famous Texas Rangers, then readers travel from current Texas to 1898, and back again. Pages fly faster than a galloping horse as we travel with the Texas Rangers and their entourage, battling the opioid epidemic and exacting justice through the Lone Star State.
Caitlin is a female version of Jack Reacher, a flawed heroine who has the blood of a gunfighter running through her veins. She accepts the fact that she’s committed sins on the job she regrets, but she’s driven to redeem her faults. And when Caitlin digs her heels in, sometimes not even the law gets in her way. As her boss admits, “Hurricane Caitlin is a category ten.”
According to Land, “all my Caitlin Strong books have both a structural core and an emotional core. Those two things always complement each other well, but in “Strong From the Heart,” they’re virtually seamless. This allows the characters to react, and at times overreact, as they become prisoners of their own emotions. It’s the theme that runs through all the Caitlin Strong titles.”
Entertaining facts about Texas history, murderous schemes, covert investigations, and themes taken from current headlines all combine to give readers a thrilling ride with the Texas Rangers. And Caitlin’s message is clear—Don’t mess with Texas.
K.L. Romo writes about life on the fringe: teetering dangerously on the edge is more interesting than standing safely in the middle. She is passionate about women’s issues, loves noisy clocks and fuzzy blankets, but hates the word normal. Visit Romo at @klromo on Twitter, and @k.l.romo on Instagram.