Strong Darkness: A Caitlin Strong Novel

Strong Darkness: A Caitlin Strong Novel

by Jon Land

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Overview

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong returns in her most thrilling adventure yet in Jon Land's STRONG DARKNESS

1883: Texas Ranger William Ray Strong teams up with Judge Roy Bean to track down the Old West's first serial killer, who's stitching a trail of death along the railroad lines slicing their way through Texas.

The Present: Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself pursuing another serial killer whose methods are eerily similar to the one pursued by her great-grandfather almost a century-and-a-half before.

But that's just the beginning of her problems. The son of her boyfriend is nearly beaten to death at Brown University. The investigation leads back to Texas and to the Chinese high-tech company awarded the contract to build the US's 5G network. Li Zhen, the company's founder, counts that as the greatest achievement of his career, but it hides his true motivationsnothing less than China's total domination of the United States.

His plan is backed by elements of the Chinese underworld. Up against an army at Li's disposal, Caitlin blazes a violent trail across country and continent in search of secrets hidden in the past, but it's a secret from the present that holds the key. Darkness is coming, and only Caitlin Strong can find the light before it's too late.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765370273
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 08/04/2015
Series: Caitlin Strong Series , #6
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 3.50(d)

About the Author

JON LAND is the critically acclaimed author of thirty novels, including the bestselling series featuring female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break and Strong Vengeance. In addition, he is that author of the nonfiction bestseller, Betrayal. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Read an Excerpt

1

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

Caitlin Strong listened to the chant repeated over and over again by the Beacon of Light Church members who’d decided to picket a young soldier’s funeral here in San Antonio in pointless protest. The words were harder to make out across the street, beyond the thousand-foot buffer the protesters were required to keep, but clear enough to disturb the parents of an army hero who just wanted to bury their son in peace.

“What are you going to do about this, Ranger?” Bud Chauncey, the young man’s father, asked her.

“I’ve requested that they vacate the premises, sir,” Caitlin told the man. “My orders are to do no more than that as long as they keep their distance. It’s the law.”

Chauncey, who owned several car dealerships in the area, turned toward the Beacon of Light Church members gathered on a patch of fresh land up a slight rise across the road, land that Mission Burial Park had purchased in order to expand. His eyes looked bloodshot and weary, his face held in an angry glare that captured the frustration over being able to do no more about their presence here than he could for the son he was about to lay to rest. He stretched a hand through stringy gray hair to smooth it back down, but the breeze quickly blew it out of place again. Chauncey always looked so strong, vital, and happy on his television commercials, leaving Caitlin to wonder if this was even the same man. His neck was thin and marred by discolored patches of skin that looked to have come from radiation treatments. His hands were thin and knobby and she noticed them trembling once he removed them from his pockets. She caught a glimpse of tobacco stains on the tips of his fingers and nails and thought of those radiation treatments again.

“Thousand feet away?” Chauncey questioned.

“Legislature passed a law restricting protests to that distance to funerals held in the state.”

Chauncey gazed back at the mourners gathered by his son’s gravesite waiting for the service to begin. He and Caitlin stood off to the side of the building funeral cortege at Mission Burial Park, the cemetery located on the San Antonio River where her father and grandfather were buried in clear view of the historic Mission Espada.

“Why don’t you explain that to my boy, Ranger?”

It sounded more like a plea than a question, a grieving father looking for a way to reconcile his son’s death in the face of picketing strangers paying him the ultimate disrespect. Blaming gays and their lifestyle for the grenade that had taken a young man’s life when he threw himself on two other soldiers to save them.

“The world might be full of shit,” Chauncey resumed with his gaze fixed across the road, electricity seeming to radiate out of his pores with the sweat to the point where Caitlin figured she’d get a shock if she stretched a hand out to comfort him. “But that doesn’t mean we ever get used to stepping in it.”

“I’ll be right back, sir,” she told Bud Chauncey and headed toward the street.

2

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

It seemed like too nice a day to bury somebody as gifted as Bud Chauncey’s son, Junior. An All-District athlete in three sports, Homecoming King, and senior class president who’d joined the army’s ROTC program. He went to Afghanistan already a hero and came back in a box after his platoon was hit by a Taliban ambush while on patrol. It was bad enough when good boys died for no good reason Caitlin could see. It was even worse when it happened while a war was winding down and most back home had stopped paying attention.

Caitlin was thinking of Dylan Torres, the eighteen-year-old son of the man she considered, well, her boyfriend, as she walked toward the road and the grassy field across it that was in the process of being dug out to make room for Mission Burial Park’s expansion. Bud Chauncey Junior had been barely a year older when he died and she couldn’t help picturing Dylan patrolling a desert wasteland with an M16 held in the ready position before him. Still a boy no matter how much he’d been through or how many monsters with whom he’d come into contact. Currently in Providence, Rhode Island, Dylan was in the midst of his freshman football season for Brown University, and had a junior varsity game next weekend, if she remembered correctly.

Caitlin had read that Junior Chauncey had been accepted for admission at the University of Texas at Austin, where he had hoped to do the same. But Junior would never don helmet and pads again.

That thought pushed a spring into her step as she strode across the road now crammed with cars, both parked along the side and inching along in search of a space. The funeral was being delayed to account for that, giving Bud Chauncey more time to suffer and the Beacon of Light Church more time to make their presence known. Alerted to their coming, she could see that television crews from five local stations and at least two national ones had arrived first, their cameras covering all that was transpiring on both sides of the road.

Crossing the street, Caitlin thought she felt a blast of heat flushed out of a furnace slam into her. It seemed to radiate off the protesters, turning the air hot and prickly as they continued to chant. The sky was cloudless, the heat building in the fall day under a sun that felt more like summer judging from the burn Caitlin felt on her cheeks.

Caitlin recognized the leader, William Bryant Tripp, from his wet-down hair, skin flushed red, and handlebar mustache, and angled herself straight for him across the edge of the field that gave way to a drainage trench the width of a massive John Deere wheel loader’s shovel. The trench created a natural barricade between the Beacon of Light Church members and what might as well have been the rest of the world, while the big Deere sat idle between towering mounds of earth set farther back in the field.

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

“Mr. Tripp,” she called to the leader over the chants. He’d stepped out of the procession at her approach, smirking and twirling the ends of his mustache.

“It’s Reverend Tripp,” he reminded.

Caitlin nodded, trying to look respectful. “There’s people grieving a tragic death across the way, Reverend, and I’d ask you again as a man and a Christian to vacate the premises so they might do so in peace. You’ve made your point already and I believe you should leave things at that.”

The smirk remained. “Peace is what this church is all about, Ranger, a peace that can only be achieved if those who debauch and deface the values of good honest people like us repent and are called out for their sins.”

“Gays had nothing to do with putting that brave boy in a coffin, sir. That was the work of a bunch of cowardly religious fanatics like the ones serving you here today.”

The smirk slipped from Tripp’s expression, replaced by a look that brushed Caitlin off and sized her up at the same time. “We’re breaking no laws here. So I’m going to ask you to leave us in peace.”

Caitlin felt her muscles tightening, her mouth going dry. “You have every right to be here and I’m here to protect your rights to peaceful assembly as well as the rights of the Chauncey family to bury their son without a sideshow. The problem is that presents a contradiction it’s my duty to resolve. And the best way to do that is to ask you and your people to simply leave in a timely fashion.”

Tripp shifted his shoulders. He seemed to relish the threat Caitlin’s words presented. “And if we choose not to?”

“You’ve made your point for the cameras already, sir. There’s nothing more for you to prove. So do the holy thing by packing up your pickets and heading on.” Caitlin gazed toward the protesters thrusting their signs into the air in perfect rhythm with their chanting. “Use the time to paint over those signs, so you’re ready to terrorize the next family that loses a son in battle, Mr. Tripp.”

Tripp measured her words, running his tongue around the inside of his mouth. It made a sound like crushing a grape underfoot. Caitlin could feel the sun’s heat between them now, serving as an invisible barrier neither wanted to breach.

“It’s Reverend Tripp,” he reminded again.

“I believe that title needs to be earned,” Caitlin told him, feeling her words start to race ahead of her thoughts.

Tripp stiffened. “This church has been serving Him and His word since the very founding of this great nation, Ranger. Even here in the great state of Texas itself.”

“Those other military funerals you’ve been picketing from Lubbock to Amarillo don’t count toward that, sir.”

“I was speaking of our missionary work back in the times of the frontier; the railroads and the oil booms. How this church tried to convert the Chinese heathen hordes to Christianity.”

“Heathen hordes?”

“It was a fool’s errand,” Tripp said, bitterness turning his expression even more hateful. “The Chinese made for an unholy, hateful people not deserving of our Lord’s good graces.”

“But you believe you are, thanks to hurting those good folks across the way, is that right? Problem is you’re not serving God, sir; you’re serving yourself. And I’m giving you a chance to square things the easy way instead of the hard.”

Tripp sneered at her. “Such threats didn’t work in Lubbock or Amarillo and they won’t work here either.”

“I wasn’t the one who made them in those cities, Mr. Tripp. You’d be well advised to listen this time.”

“And what if I don’t?”

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

The chanting had picked up in cadence, seeming to reach a crescendo as the funeral goers squeezed themselves around Junior Chauncey’s gravesite across the road so the ceremony could begin. Caitlin watched the members of the Beacon of Light Church thrusting their picket signs into the air as if they were trying to make rain, the image of their feet teetering on the edge of the recently dug drainage trench holding in her mind.

“I guess I’ll have to think of something,” she told Tripp and started away.

Copyright © 2014 by Jon Land

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Strong Darkness: A Caitlin Strong Novel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Jon Land in his new book, “Strong Darkness” Book Six in the Caitlin Strong series published by Forge Books gives us a new adventure with Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. From the back cover:  1883: Texas Ranger William Ray Strong teams up with Judge Roy Bean to track down the Old West’s first serial killer, who’s stitching a trail of death along the railroad lines slicing their way through Texas. The Present: Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself pursuing another serial killer whose methods are eerily similar to the one pursued by her great-grandfather almost a century-and-a-half before. But that’s just the beginning of her problems. The son of her boyfriend is nearly beaten to death at Brown University. The investigation leads back to Texas and to the Chinese high-tech company awarded the contract to build the US’s 5G network. Li Zhen, the company’s founder, counts that as the greatest achievement of his career, but it hides his true motivations—nothing less than China’s total domination of the United States. His plan is backed by elements of the Chinese underworld. Up against an army at Li’s disposal, Caitlin blazes a violent trail across country and continent in search of secrets hidden in the past, but it’s a secret from the present that holds the key. Darkness is coming, and only Caitlin Strong can find the light before it’s too late. Let me start out by saying that I am a big fan of the adventures of Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong.  Not only is she is a modern-day Texas Ranger but she has strong (sorry no pun intended) to her great-grandfather who also was a Texas Ranger so together this series is exciting.  “Strong Darkness” is one huge action-packed thriller from page one.  There is a serial killer that seems to be copying the serial killer that Caitlin’s Great-Grandfather tracked. And there is this international human trafficking network that preys on children and also a Chinese high-tech company that develops a 5G network to gain access to America’s greatest technological secrets. No need to drink coffee this is pure excitement and more than enough to keep you awake.  Mr. Land obviously likes to tell a good story,and this one is as good as it gets.  You will not be disappointed with “Strong Darkness”.  It is a roaring adventure from start to finish. Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from Partners In Crime.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strong Darkness is best-selling Jon Land at his triumphal best! It is at the zenith of his remarkable story-telling skill. Unforgettable characters locked in battle with a Chinese monster deceiving our supposed defender, U.S. Homeland Security intent on controlling our elections, to open the U.S. communications network to Chinese zealots with their own object -- establishing a means of killing tens of millions American cell phone users with a key click. Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is on her game. The son of her fellow-traveler Cort Wesley is seduced by a beautiful Chinese porn star, bred to be an irresistible sex machine, with an agenda of her own. Cort Wesley responds with the assistance of Caitlin’s avenging angel Guilliermo Paz, another killing machine relentlessly seeking his own salvation. You will not put this one down until you reach the finale in an avalanche of evil creatures. Jon Land writes remarkable thrillers. Aside from clever context and engaging characters, he treats readers to an understanding of the emotions of these heroes as they confront evil and their own reality. He also connects Caitlin’s current Texas Ranger missions to those of her grandfather in the times of range warfare. When you turn the last page, you will smile with expectation of a continuing saga of Caitlin, Cort Wesley, Guillermo and the boys, which Jon reports is on its way.
Russ_Ilg More than 1 year ago
Strong Darkness by Jon Land Reviewed by Russell Ilg Jon Land’s brand new Caitlin Strong novel, as hard as it is to believe, is his best to date in this stellar series that’s one of the best being written today. Every one of the novels has a life of its own from the first page to the last, but Strong Darkness seems to jump off those pages in terms of detail as well as character, achieving a life and vitality rare for fiction in general and thrillers in particular. The book doesn’t even give you a chance to get settled in your chair, just throws you back so far so fast you feel you’ve been struck by the train on the book’s creepy cover. The real conductor here is Land’s heroic Caitlin Strong, a fifth generation Texas Ranger who’s kind of a throwback in terms of temperament and attitude. For her the past is never far behind, literally since her family history always plays a key role, taking us back to the earlier, sometimes very early, days of the Rangers in cases somehow connected to whatever Caitlin’s investigating in the present with the help of her reformed outlaw boy friend Cort Wesley Masters. Masters has two teenage sons for whom Caitlin assumes a maternal role in stark contrast to her gunfighter mentality. It’s a curious juxtaposition, kind of like a mother bear protecting her cubs, and one that creates the perfect balance between the twin sides of her nature. Strong Darkness begins with Caitlin’s great-grandfather, Texas Ranger William Ray Strong, pursuing the Old West’s first serial killer with the help of the legendary hanging judge Roy Bean. Fast-forward to the present where Caitlin finds herself facing off against another serial killer whose methods are identical to that one. Before she can set her sights on that, though, she learns Cort Wesley’s oldest son Dylan is lying in a hospital after being almost beaten to death and off she goes to Brown University in Providence, RI to stir up trouble there as well. How exactly, though, is that connected to a Chinese company run by a vengeful Chinese billionaire with sights on destroying the whole United States? Good thing the one woman wrecking crew of Caitlin, along with Cort Wesley and her personal guardian angel in the form of the indestructible Guillermo Paz, are around to take him on. Li Zhen has his own crosses to bear, as they say, one of them somehow connected to the 5G wireless network his company is building for its own nefarious purposes. There may be no shortage of bullets flying every which way, but what Land is really trying to do here is prey on our fears of Chinese motivations and manipulations, cleverly adding other hotbed issues to the mix from human trafficking to the little known world of the Deep Web. Cutting edge stuff honed sharp as a razor. Structurally flawless and bursting with ambition, Strong Darkness is sure to be the most intense, action-packed thriller of the year. Land has become one of the literary highlights of the year for me, putting as much pride and dedication into his work as the Texas Rangers themselves. The world could use more of them and more of Jon Land too.