“Strong to the Bone” (Forge Books), by Jon Land
Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong thrillers usually have a “ripped from the headlines” feel, and the new one, “Strong to the Bone,” features violent neo-Nazis, industrial robots, a lethal biological weapon, the international opiates trade and a creep who buys pharmaceutical companies to jack up the price of drugs.
For the uninitiated, Strong is a trigger-happy, insubordinate, fifth-generation Texas Ranger whose exploits always have a direct link to one of her ancestors’ investigations. In this one, the ninth book in the series, it’s her grandfather Earl Strong’s pursuit of a Nazi who escaped from a World War II prison camp in Texas in the 1940s.
The series’ other regulars, including Caitlin’s long-suffering commander, D.W. Tepper; her ex-con lover, Cort Wesley Masters; and Masters’ sons Luke and Dylan, all return. The oldest boy, Luke, who becomes more like his father with every book, initiates the action when he faces off against neo-Nazis who harass his Mexican-American friends.
The story also finds Caitlin coming face-to-face with the darkest moment in her past. Called to the scene of a nightclub brawl in Austin, she discovers that a young woman has been drugged and raped. The circumstances are eerily similar to what happened to Caitlin when she was a college student — an assault Land reveals here for the first time.
Caitlin soon suspects that the girl’s assailant and hers are one and the same. This makes Caitlin wonder if she’s always been quick to pull the trigger because she harbors a deep-seated rage against male offenders.
Eventually, the Masters’ struggle against neo-Nazis and Caitlin’s pursuit of the rapist merge into a single, related criminal case. As always with this rollicking, entertaining series, the complex plot is resolved in a burst of righteous violence.
Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”