What do drug smuggling across Canada’s border, a sex slavery trade based in Mexico, and a double-amputee Iraqi war veteran have in common? That’s what Caitlin Strong, a modern-day fifth generation Texas Ranger has to figure out in Jon Land’s Strong At the Break, the heart-racing page-turning third novel in his Caitlin Strong series. Though it’s the third in the series, Strong At the Break can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.
Texas is not big enough for Ranger Caitlin Strong in Strong At the Break. She is “selected for a joint U.S. and Canadian drug task force” and travels to Canada to be a “part of a six-person squad” investigating a marijuana grow house using Chinese laborers…an operation the Hells Angels seem determined to end, even if it means muder.
Malcolm Arno, the leader of a powerful militia movement known as the Patriot Sun, is following in the footsteps of his father, the late preacher of the gospel Maxwell Arno. Max “and his cultlike group of fanatics known as the Church of the Redeemer” had been stockpiling weapons, getting ready for the day when they would start a second Civil War and take back Washington, D.C., and America and restore rights they felt have been gradually taken away from white American by the government and the courts.
Strong At the Break has flashbacks interspersed throughout, just as the first two books in the series do. The one that begins the books and serves as a prologue depicts Jim Strong’s confrontation and attempted arrest of Max outside of Pearsley’s Tackle and Gun Shop. Caitlin sees that Arno’s son is there with him, with no way to know then that Malcolm will grow up to carry on his father’s legacy. He organizes many of the country’s militant extremist groups together and makes Patriot Sun larger than the Church of the Redeemer ever had been.
Field medic and sergeant Mark Serles is an Iraqi vet who had his legs blown off above the knee by an IED. He believes that the Iraqis didn’t set it off, though, but that someone from our government or military did, to silence him because of information he knew. He is still anxious and worries that his life might be in danger, and doesn’t feel he can trust anyone around him. Caitlin Strong is a bit dubious, but promises to help Mark–a native of San Antonio–any way she can.
Jon Land’s short chapters interweave together and keep the suspense and action going nonstop. Each of the three main plot lines are fascinating, and very believable and well-researched. Homegrown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and his connections with the Michigan Militia are mentioned, and with the huge number of other White Supremist and neo-Nazi groups around the country, the parts of the novel dealing with them and their goals seemed all too real. I’m sad to say that McVeigh also had ties with at least one militant group in Arkansas, where I live, and to the “Elohim City” compound in Muldrow, Oklahoma, so the novel touched me one more than one level as I read about Malcolm Arno and the Patriot Sun organization.
Also, I was very interested in how the Hells Angels have helped participate in making Canada an even bigger source of illegal drugs entering into the United States than Mexico. I knew Canada was a major source of drugs like the BC buds, or marijuana, that Jon Land writes about in the novel, but I did not know to what extent until I read Strong At the Break. And the information I read about the tremendous amount of money, $20 billion, that disappeared in Iraq but had been meant to be used to ensure its infrastructure didn’t fail, was extremely interesting. How it plays into the funding of the Patriot Sun makes the novel seem ripped from today’s headlines, and I just hope that nothing like that scenario ever happens, which might allow militant groups to band together and carry out their plans to overthrow our government, however corrupt it might be.
Strong At the Break by Jon Land is a pulse-pounding book that proves you shouldn’t mess with Texas, and especially not with Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. It’s perhaps the best book yet in an already powerful series, and it successfully blends elements of history, the Texas Rangers, and today’s news into an explosive package you’ll love to read if you’re already a fan of the series or the thriller genre. Remember, you don’t need to have read the first two books to get into and enjoy reading Strong At the Break, so check it out today!