Strong Rain Falling (Caitlin Strong Series #5)

Strong Rain Falling (Caitlin Strong Series #5)

by Jon Land


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"Gripping! Caitlin Strong is my favorite new series character."—Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765331502
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 08/13/2013
Series: Caitlin Strong Series , #5
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.22(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

Strong Rain Falling

A Caitlin Strong Novel

By Jon Land

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2013 Jon Land
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3150-2


Providence, Rhode Island

Caitlin Strong was waiting downstairs in a grassy park bisected by concrete walkways when Dylan Torres emerged from the building. The boy fit in surprisingly well with the Brown University students he slid between in approaching her, his long black hair bouncing just past his shoulders and attracting the attention of more than one passing coed.

"How'd it go?" Caitlin asked, rising from the bench that felt like a sauna in the sun.

Dylan shrugged and blew some stray hair from his face with his breath. "Size could be an issue."

"For playing football at this level, I expect so."

"Coach Estes didn't rule it out. He just said there were no more first-year slots left in the program."

"First year?"

"Freshman, Caitlin."

"How'd you leave it?" she asked, feeling dwarfed by the athletic buildings that housed playing courts, training facilities, a swimming pool, a full gym, and the offices of the school's coaches. The buildings enclosed the parklike setting on three sides, leaving the street side to be rimmed by an eight-foot wall of carefully layered stone. Playing fields took up the rear of the complex beyond the buildings and, while waiting for Dylan, Caitlin heard the clang of aluminum bats hitting baseballs and thunks of what sounded like soccer balls being kicked about. Funny how living in a place the size of Texas made her antsy within an area where so much was squeezed so close.

"Well, short of me growing another four inches and putting on maybe twenty pounds of muscle, it's gonna be an uphill battle," Dylan said, looking down. "That is, if I even get into this place. That's an uphill battle too."

She reached out and touched his shoulder. "This coming from a kid who's bested serial killers, kidnappers, and last year a human monster who bled venom instead of blood."

Dylan started to shrug, but smiled instead. "Helps that you and my dad were there to gun them all down."

"Well, I don't believe we'll be shooting Coach Estes, and my point was if anybody can handle an uphill battle or two, it's you."

Dylan lapsed into silence, leaving Caitlin to think of the restaurant they'd eaten at the night before, where the waitress had complimented her on having such a good-looking son. She'd felt her insides turn to mush when the boy smiled and went right on studying the menu, not bothering to correct the woman. He was three quarters through a fifth year at San Antonio's St. Anthony Catholic High School, in range of finishing the year with straight A's. Though the school didn't formally offer a post-graduate program, Caitlin's captain, D. W. Tepper, had convinced them to make an exception on behalf of the Texas Rangers by slightly altering their Senior Connection program to fit the needs of a boy whose grades hadn't anywhere near matched his potential yet.

Not that it was an easy fit. The school's pristine campus in historic Monte Vista just north of downtown San Antonio was populated by boys and girls in staid, prescribed uniforms that made Dylan cringe. Blazers instead of shapeless shirts worn out at the waist, khakis instead of jeans gone from sagging to, more recently, what they called skinny, and hard leather dress shoes instead of the boots Caitlin had bought him for his birthday a few years back. But the undermanned football team had recruited him early on, Dylan donning a uniform for the first time since his brief stint in the Pop Warner Football League as a young boy, when his mother was still alive and the father he'd yet to meet was in prison. This past fall at St. Anthony's he'd taken to the sport again like a natural, playing running back and sifting through the tiniest holes in the defensive line to amass vast chunks of yardage. Dylan ended up being named Second Team All TAPPS District 25A, attracting the attention of several small colleges, though none on the level of Brown University, a perennial contender for the Ivy League crown.

Caitlin found those Friday nights, sitting with Cort Wesley Masters and his younger son, Luke, in stands ripe with the first soft bite of fall, strangely comforting. Given that she'd never had much use for such things in her own teenage years, the experience left her feeling as if she'd been transported back in time, with a chance to relive her own youth through a boy who was as close to a son as she'd ever have. Left her recalling her own high school days smelling of gun oil instead of perfume. She'd been awkward then, gawky after growing tall fast. Still a few years short of forty, Caitlin had never added to that five-foot-seven-inch frame, although the present found her filled out and firm from regular workouts and jogging. She wore her wavy black hair more fashionably styled, but kept it the very same length she always had, perhaps in a misguided attempt to slow time, if not stop it altogether.

Gazing at Dylan now, she recalled the headmaster of his school, a cousin of Caitlin's own high school principal, coming up to her after the victorious opening home game.

"The school owes you a great bit of gratitude, Ranger."

"Well, sir, I'll bet Dylan'll do even better next week."

The headmaster gestured toward the newly installed lights. "I meant gratitude to the Rangers arranging for the variance that allowed us to go forward with the installation. That's the only reason we're able to be here tonight."

She'd nodded, smiling to herself at how Captain Tepper had managed to arrange Dylan's admission. "Our pleasure, sir."

Now, months later, on the campus of an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island, Dylan looked down at the grass and then up again, something furtive lurking in his suddenly narrowed eyes. The sun sneaking through a nearby tree dappled his face and further hid what he was about to share.

"I got invited to a frat party."

"Say that again."

"I got invited to a party at this frat called D-Phi."

"D what?"

"Short for Delta Phi. Like the Greek letters."

"I know they're Greek letters, son, just like I know what goes on at these kind of parties given that I've been called to break them up on more than one occasion."

"You're the one who made me start thinking about college."

"Doesn't mean I got you thinking about doing shots and playing beer pong."


Caitlin looked at him as if he were speaking a foreign language.

"They call it Beirut here, not beer pong," Dylan continued. "And it's important I get a notion of what campus life is like. You told me that too."

"I did?"


"I let you go to this party, you promise you won't drink?"

Dylan rolled his head from side to side. "I promise I won't drink much."

"What's that mean?"

"That I'll be just fine when you come pick me up in the morning to get to the airport."

"Pick you up," Caitlin repeated, her gaze narrowing.

"I'm staying with this kid from Texas who plays on the team. Coach set it up."

"Coach Estes?"

"Yup. Why?"

Caitlin slapped an arm around the boy's shoulders and steered him toward the street. "Because I may rethink my decision about shooting him."

"I told him you were a Texas Ranger," Dylan said, as they approached a pair of workmen stringing a tape measure outside the athletic complex's hockey rink.

"What'd he think about that?" Caitlin said, finding her gaze drawn to the two men she noticed had no tools and were wearing scuffed shoes instead of work boots.

"He said he liked gals with guns."

They continued along the walkway that curved around the parklike grounds, banking left at a small lot where Caitlin had parked her rental. She worked the remote to unlock the doors and watched Dylan ease around to the passenger side, while she turned back toward the hockey rink and the two workmen she couldn't shake from her mind.

But they were gone.


Providence, Rhode Island

"What's this WaterFire thing?" Dylan asked, spooning up the last of his ice cream while Caitlin sipped her nightly postdinner coffee.

"Like a tradition here. Comes highly recommended."

"You don't want me going to that frat party."

"The thought had crossed my mind, but I'm guessing the WaterFire'll be done 'fore your party even gets started."

Dylan held the spoon in his hand and then licked at it.

"How's the ice cream?"

"It's gelato."

"What's the difference?"

"None, I guess."

They had chosen to eat at a restaurant called Paragon, again on the recommendation of Coach Estes. It was a fashionably loud, lit, and reasonably priced bistro-like restaurant on the student-dominated Thayer Street, across from the university's bookstore. Dylan ordered a pizza while Caitlin ruminated over the menu choices before eventually opting for what she always did: a steak. You can take the gal out of Texas, she thought to herself, but you can't take Texas out of the gal.

"I hear this WaterFire is something special," Caitlin said when she saw him checking his watch.

"Yeah? Who told you that?"

"Coach Estes. What do you say we head downtown and check it out?"

* * *

They walked through the comfortable cool of the early evening darkness, a welcome respite from the sweltering spring heat wave that had struck Texas just before they'd left. Caitlin wanted to talk, but Dylan wouldn't look up from his iPhone, banging out text after text.

They strolled up a slight hill and then down a steeper one, joining the thick flow of people heading for the sounds of the nighttime festival known as WaterFire. The air was crisp and laced with the pungent aroma of wood smoke drifting up from Providence's downtown area, where the masses of milling people were headed. The scent grew stronger while the harmonic strains of music sharpened the closer they drew to an area bridged by walkways crisscrossing a river that ran the entire length of the modest office buildings and residential towers that dominated the city's skyline. A performance area had been roped off at the foot of the hill, currently occupied by a group of white-faced mimes. An array of pushcarts offering various grilled meats as well as snacks and sweets were lined up nearby, most with hefty lines before them.

The tightest clusters of festival patrons moved in both directions down a walkway at the river's edge. Caitlin realized the strange and haunting strains of music had their origins down here as well, and moved to join the flow. The black water shimmered like glass, an eerie glow emanating from its surface. Boaters and canoeists paddled leisurely by. A water taxi packed with seated patrons sipping wine slid past, followed by what looked like a gondola straight from Venice.

But it was the source of the orange glow reflecting off the water's surface that claimed Caitlin's attention. She could now identify the pungent scent of wood smoke as that of pine and cedar, hearing the familiar crackle of flames as she and Dylan reached a promenade that ran directly alongside the river.

"Caitlin?" Dylan prodded, touching her shoulder.

She jerked to her right, stiffening, the boy's hand like a hot iron against her shirt.

"Uh-oh," the boy said. "You got that look."

"Just don't like crowds," Caitlin managed, casting her gaze about. "That's all."

A lie, because she felt something wasn't right, out of rhythm somehow. Her stomach had already tightened and now she could feel the bands of muscle in her neck and shoulders knotting up as well.

"Yeah?" Dylan followed before she forced a smile. "And, like, I'm supposed to believe that?"

Before them, a line of bonfires that seemed to rise out of the water curved along the expanse of the Providence Riverwalk. The source of these bonfires, Caitlin saw now, were nearly a hundred steel braziers of flaming wood moored to the water's surface and stoked by black-shirted workers in a square, pontoon-like boat, including one who performed an elaborate fire dance in between tending the flames.

The twisting line of braziers seemed to stretch forever into the night. Caitlin and Dylan continued to follow their bright glow, keeping the knee-high retaining wall on their right. More kiosks selling hot dogs, grilled meats to be stuffed in pockets, kabobs, beverages, and souvenirs had been set up on streets and sidewalks above the Riverwalk. The sights and sounds left her homesick for Texas, the sweet smell of wood smoke reminding her of the scent of barbecue and grilled food wafting over the famed San Antonio River Walk.

Caitlin was imagining that smell when she felt something, not much and not even identifiable at first, yet enough to make her neck hairs stand up. A ripple in the crowd, she realized an instant later, followed almost immediately by more of a buckling indicative of someone forcing their way through it. Instinct twisted Caitlin in the direction of the ripple's origin and the flames' glow caught a face that was familiar to her.

Because it belonged to one of the workmen she'd glimpsed outside the hockey rink back at Brown University. And the second workman stood directly alongside him, their hands pulling their jackets back enough to reveal the dark glint of the pistols wedged into their belts.


Providence, Rhode Island

Caitlin saw the men's eyes harden, semiautomatic pistols yanked free and coming around.

She shoved Dylan behind her, feeling the muscles that weight-room workouts had layered into his shoulders and arms, as she drew her own SIG Sauer P226.

The last thing she saw before she opened fire were flashes of steel in both workmen's hands, rising fast in the glow off the nearby flames. Her spin toward them had obviously surprised the workmen, but her gunshots shocked them even more.

She fired through a tunnel in the night air, imagining she could feel the heat of the bullets blazing a path forward. She kept pulling the SIG's trigger, standing rigid amid the panicked jostling and sudden surge her gunfire had unleashed.

She realized she was still holding fast to Dylan in her off hand, dimly aware of the muzzle flashes and the thuds of her nine-millimeter shells clacking against the concrete beneath her. The impacts forced the workmen backward, where they crumpled to become land mines in the path of the throngs sent fleeing by the gunshots.

Caitlin pushed her way toward the downed gunmen, able to catch sight of their lost pistols being kicked about by feet thrashing over the concrete. No thought given in that moment to the fact that this wasn't Texas and she'd just gunned down two men in a state the size of a postage stamp, where the authorities might not be nearly as sympathetic to her methods as D. W. Tepper.

She released the hand holding tight to Dylan and stooped to retrieve the stray pistols, realizing she had no plastic evidence gloves, when the sudden roar of an engine grabbed her attention anew. Instinctively, she lurched back upright, facing the sound's origins on the river with Dylan planted behind her again.

A motorboat sped toward the scene, cracking a gondola from its path and then slamming a small skiff tending the braziers out of its way. Impact sprayed fresh fuel and kindling across the water's surface, the motorboat jostled just enough to keep a gunman poised in the rear from opening fire with his assault rifle when he'd intended to. Caitlin resteadied her SIG and parted the crowd as she aimed, a clear path between her and the gunman now.

He got his weapon leveled.

Caitlin fired hers. Three times, the pistol's roar echoing over the panicked cries and Baroque music. She hit the gunman twice, stealing his balance and pitching him into the outboard motor. Plenty of bullets left to use on the boat's driver, whose right hand had dropped from the wheel.

Caitlin fired at him until she heard the click of the hammer striking an empty chamber as the SIG's slide locked in place, the motorboat now veering straight for one of the braziers. The violent crash caused a flame burst that showered fiery embers into the air to rain down on the fuel and kindling pooled on the surface.


The exploding speedboat sent a hot wind blowing up against Caitlin as flames erupted on the water, faces twisted in fear along the Riverwalk framed by the glow. Caitlin managed to steady herself with a shallow breath and grabbed a second magazine from her jacket.


Dylan's cry reached her before she'd jacked it home and she swung toward the boy in the same moment he rushed past her, straight for a big man she hadn't noticed wielding a big knife.


Excerpted from Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land. Copyright © 2013 Jon Land. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Strong Rain Falling (Caitlin Strong Series #5) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Review by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery This is one of the best police procedural/suspense/mystery books I've read in years. Mr. Land has done a great job of bringing characters to life, and for once, the good truly good. Caitlin Strong is a Texas ranger, full of fire and ready to take out the bad need be. What a reborn concept--good and honest role models, full of integrity and strength. And though Caitlin is an excellent role model, she is also well-rounded and alive. I'd be proud to call her friend. Below you'll find a synopsis and an excerpt. Expect to be pulled in by a Texas ranger with a reformed convict for a boyfriend, and a hot temper for those who aren't willing to stand up and do the right thing. She faces politicians, criminals and uncooperative bosses with disdain and manages to stay alive, and employed. This is book is the fifth in the series, though it stands alone just fine. But I'll be going back to read the first four books ASAP.
JoyAnneTN More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy unpredictable thrillers this is the book for you. Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is trying to find out who is targeting the sons of her love interest Cort Masters who just happens to be in a Mexican prison. She also must figure out what his teenage sons have in common with the dead bodies found lined up on a drill rig.  Drug Cartel, nuclear weapons, and ghosts from the past are what you'll find in this action packed novel. Fast paced, refreshing, entertaining... Jon Land knows how to write!  I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
TheStuffofSuccess More than 1 year ago
I have read several of John Land's books but nothing from the Caitlin Strong books. I love how John can blend fiction with fact; history with present. It is a very unique ability but one that captures a reader from the very beginning of the story. Trust me - those first few pages are very important in his stories. The stage is set immediately and you will never have a dull moment and there are always surprises that leave you gasping. This is yet another masterfully created suspense filled mystery that is worth every moment of your time! Five stars again for sure! Thanks John. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
mmbear More than 1 year ago
This was an action packed book from the moment I opened it until it ended! I actually didn't know that Texas still had Rangers and all the interesting information that was included in this book about Mexico and how the drug cartels got started was all news to me. Too bad vengeance always clouds people's minds and in this particular story, I never really understood why this woman killed her own sister and her family. The girls were born twins but the family was pretty poor at the time so one of their friends took one girl and adopted her. This girl that was adopted, Ana, unfortunately, became caught up in the drug cartels and she rose to fame and had a lot of money. But, still, she sought revenge for something her twin sister knew nothing about. Heck, she didn't even know she had one! So, they kill the sister and then they find out she had another sister and a family including 2 children. Those were also killed. To me, this makes absolutely no sense. It's not like they knew about her. I wasn't too thrilled with the killing of children and thankfully no graphic details are given, to which I am very happy about. Otherwise, it's an awesome book and if you enjoy nail biting suspense until the very end, then this book is for you!
VicG More than 1 year ago
Jon Land in his new book, "Strong Rain Falling" Book Five in the Blaine McCracken series published by Forge Books gives us a new adventure with Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. From the back cover: Mexico, 1919: The birth of the Mexican drug trade begins with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border, igniting an all-out battle with American law enforcement in general and the Texas Rangers in particular. The Present: Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her lover Cort Wesley Masters both survive terrifying gun battles. But this time, it turns out, the actual targets were not them, but Masters' teenage sons. That sets Caitlin and Cort Wesley off on a trail winding through the past and present with nothing less than the future of the United States hanging in the balance. Along the way they will confront terrible truths dating all the way back to the Mexican Revolution and the dogged battle Caitlin's own grandfather and great-grandfather fought against the first generation of Mexican drug dealers. At the heart of the storm soon to sweep away America as we know it, lies a mastermind whose abundant power is equaled only by her thirst for vengeance. Ana Callas Guajardo, the last surviving member of the family that founded the Mexican drug trade, has dedicated all of her vast resources to a plot aimed at the U.S.'s technological heart. This time out, sabotage proves to be as deadly a weapon as bombs in a battle Caitlin must win in cyberspace as well. Her only chance to prevail is to short-circuit a complex plan based as much on microchips as bullets. Because there's a strong rain coming and only Caitlin and Cort Wesley can stop the fall before it's too late. I am new to the adventures of Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The minute I read that she is a modern-day Texas Ranger I knew this was going to be exciting. I just didn't know how exciting. For me the minute you say Texas Ranger I think of every Western I have ever read or seen and none of them were bad and I knew this would be no exception. "Strong Rain Falling" is one huge action-packed thriller from page one. A strong rain can overflow highways and destroy property. A high intensity situation can have the same effect as a strong rain. Ana Callas Guajardo wants to get revenge for an event from 1919 and she is just crazy enough to destroy the United States in the process. This is pure excitement. 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 Rain Falling". It is a roaring adventure from start to finish. Now while I wait for the next Caitlin Strong novel I have four others I need to catch up on. 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."