Sunday, April 19, 2009
Reviewing: "Strong Enough To Die: A Caitlin Strong Novel" by Jon Land
Former Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong plans to work at the "Survivor Center for Victims of Torture" in San Antonio as she attempts to get her life back on track. Her husband, Peter, an electronics expert was recently killed in Iraq. A fifth generation Texas Ranger, Caitlin Strong left the legendary organization in the aftermath of a violent shoot out in the desert outside of El Paso, Texas five years ago. Her life has been pain, chaos and upheaval the last several years and in a way, work at the Survivor Center will allow her to redeem herself and begin again. She needs a mission as she has been drifting through the motions of living but nothing made her more alive than working as a Texas Ranger. She isn't the only one who needs a mission.
Notorious outlaw Cort Wesley Masters, the man Caitlin believes responsible for the violent shoot out and the death of her partner that night, is finally released from prison. He proved he wasn't in the desert that night and while he deserved to go to prison for lots of things, that night wasn't one of them. He wants revenge and heads for San Antonio, Texas to find Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, who put him in prison.
Soon circumstances force the two foes to unite in a quest to investigate the truth about what happened five years ago and the legacy of that night. Back in law enforcement and once more a Texas Ranger, Caitlin has her mission. In a twisting violence filled trail that branches out from Texas to Washington, to the Middle East, and deep into Mexico a romance of sorts begins between the hardened outlaw and the beautiful Texas Ranger with danger and conspiracy as a constant backdrop.
Unfortunately, the book does not live up to its premise or the blurbs on it from many famous authors such as Sandra Brown, Lee Child, David Morrell and others. Billed as a thriller novel, one understands there will be limited character development with the focus on action to drive the story forward. Action is what this book does very well. Action and violence fill much of the book with bad guys by the hundreds involved and Caitlin and Cort virtually invincible despite twenty to one odds in gun battles and worse. Both Caitlin Strong and Cort Wesley Masters can shoot extremely well and are always calm, cool and collected under gunfire. In fact, her grace with a handgun as well as her eyes is what attracts Cort in the first place.
Unlike readers, Cort can remember Caitlin is a woman and in one ludicrous scene, takes full advantage of that fact in a parking garage. The fact that he can remember she is a woman certainly isn't true because of the dialogue. While there is nothing wrong at all with a strong female character, it helps readers if the dialogue occasionally reflects the fact that she is a woman. If that isn't possible, the dialogue should at the very least, have some sort of variety between characters. That isn't the case at all here with the dialogue throughout the book reads the same no matter which character says it. The only difference at any point is that occasionally, a Spanish word is thrown in to remind readers that the speaker is of Hispanic character. The overall result is dialogue that occasionally begins to be funny as everyone seems to have clipped speech patterns that are supposed to convey deep meaning and instead come across as unintentionally funny. This is the kind of dialogue written by people who don't know what real native Texans sound like and got their dialogue ideas from Hollywood. That fact, also with the incredible stiffness of the dialogue in many places, further compounds the stereotypical and one dimensionality of the characters.
Simplistic with stereotypical characters and cartoonish violence which never injures the main two characters despite the liberal use of handguns, machine guns, explosives, rocket propelled grenades, etc. this book will appeal to action junkies who don't want complicated characters, deep plots, or a lot of other stuff to slow down the action. The book pays homage throughout the book to the Texas Rangers while skimming the surface of the topic. This is unfortunate, as the topic, as well as this book, could have been significantly improved by adding some depth to the work.
But, the book will make a great easy to film action movie.
Strong Enough To Die: A Caitlin Strong Novel
Tom Doherty Associates Book (Forge)
ARC for my review was provided to me by way of my membership in the Amazon Vine Program.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009