Strong Darkness: Jon Land
Judge Roy Bean would meet out his own brand of justice anyway that suited him. He as legend would have it held court in his saloon along the Rio Grande. A barren or devastated wasteland or stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert southwest of Texas is where his saloon was located. Judge Roy Bean returns center court in this historical fiction novel that takes readers back to 1883, the South Pacific Railroad, the death of Chinese women and his connection to one Texas Ranger named William Ray Strong. Saloonkeeper, Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, he considered himself the law west of Pecos. Judge Roy Bean was often cast as a hanging judge and as the novel opens we meet him as he is about to pass sentence on someone who killed a young Chinese man, a Texas Ranger that questions his verdict and the new alliance formed to weed out a serial killer. As the judge and the Ranger join forces in a rather unique way, they go in search of a killer that has targeted young women and killed them in a diabolical and grotesque way.
Courts in session, no hung juries or appeals the book flashes to the present as we meet our main character a tough Texas Ranger named Caitlin Strong and her significant other outlaw Cort Wesley. As Judge Bean states in the past that he could find no law against killing a Chinaman. He dismissed the case. By December of 1882, railroad construction moved further westward so he moved his courtroom and saloon 70 miles to Strawbridge. But, the story takes a different turn as we learn about the attack on Dylan Torres, Cort Wesley’s son, the possible reason behind it and the fact that sometimes trying to help someone you don’t know might cause you more harm than good. Dylan met a young Chinese girl named Kai in a bar and recognized her as a porn star. Thinking that she was in trouble he decided to meet her and find out more. But, someone wanted him out of the way and the next time he woke up it was in a hospital bed with a huge headache, tubes coming out of all parts of his body and many unanswered questions that his father would like addressed. With Caitlin showing up and concerned about Dylan, the police wanting her out of the way, and her reputation for getting things done but not always in an orthodox manner, the Detective in charge decides to inflict a curfew on her stay and wants her out of the way. But, things change and heat up as her boss, Tepper demands her return and the reasons would link the past to the present as a serial killer has decided to mirror the murders that her great grandfather encountered in the past. Strong Darkness: Jon Land once again brings back Ranger Caitlin Strong to investigate the murders, handle Cort Wesley and find the link that would answer why Chinese Women are being targeted and why did a group of Chinese killers go after his son in the hospital?
A Chinese high tech company owner stands up to the Triad even before taking control of his company. Threats fly, lives at stake and the end result would be catastrophic to the United States. Five G generation and this one man is in control of the contract to build the US’s 5G network. Li Zhen, the founder is a dangerous man and within his company are secrets that when revealed will link to what happened to Dylan and to a rare flower that is found in his garden. If this man succeeds and his true calling is found out then China would dominate the United States and the end of our nation as it is right now would perish. Enter Guillermo Paz, a dangerous man whose friendship with Caitlin goes back a long way. A vision that she might be in trouble and seeing what she is about to endure on the Texas Train Museum he finds his way to her rescue but not before Caitlin takes down four young men dressed as clowns eager to eliminate not only her but anyone that gets in their way. Author Jon Land creates a scene on the train that is so fast paced, filled with suspense, energy and speed that readers will think they are along for not only the right but also the final takedown of these dangerous men. With the backing of the Chinese underworld and a huge army at hand, can Caitlin take on this man, his entire arsenal before anyone else dies. Linking the deaths of many Chinese women from the past, a killer that decapitated his victims and sews their heads back on backwards, seems to be alive and well recreating the same deaths in the present. William Ray Strong and Judge Roy Bean teamed up together to top a serial killer in 1883, but who is doing the same thing in the present? Strong Darkness: only author Jon Land can create such an intricate and complicated plot that will take readers back to the old west and Judge Roy Bean’s brand of justice to the present dealing with not only Li Chen but the demons that harbor inside of both Caitlin and Cort Wesley as he faces killers inside his son’s hospital room, seems a vision of someone that keeps him centered and prays that they get out alive. When the football coach and Dylan’s team members show up to visit him in the hospital readers will not believe what they do and how that scene plays out!
Caitlin Strong is smart and something from the past does not ring true as the novel really begins with Caitlin stopping a group from the Beacon Of Light Church who are disrupting the funeral of a vet by protesting and disturbing the parents of this young army hero about to be buried. The events that take place will let readers know that Caitlin Strong is tough and when she wants to make a point she will do it anyway she can. What she does to stop them will surprise readers and definitely the protesters.
Cort Wesley is not about to let anyone handle what happened to his son but him and as he releases him from the hospital the two make their way to find the answers in a way that only author Jon Land can create filled with suspense, humor and Cort Wesley style. But, called in to handle the murder of a Chinese General, Caitlin faces more obstacles, is threatened if she does not back off from investigating Li Chen and is literally escorted out and told to go home. But, anyone that knows The Ranger will also know she does not take lightly to threats and finds herself front and center with Li Chen, recalling the link to the past, what he felt was stolen from him and how that ties to her great grandfather in the past. An invention that would have revolutionized the way messages were sent and an invention that was presented by Chen’s great grandfather to John Morehouse the head of Southern Pacific Railroad and the end devastating leading to what might be happening in the present. Hear the voices of William Ray Strong and Judge Roy Bean as they take matters into their own hands to find out just who had a hand in the murder of the Chinese prostitutes, why no one cared and what they planned to do.
Medical Examiner Whatley finds so many anomalies regarding the deaths of not only these Chinese girls but also four homeless men and the Chinese General that was killed. Deemed a heart attack he knew it to be something else but proving it would take the work of Caitlin Strong and a young tech guy named Roger. What they learn from the crime scene leads them to believe that the link is the cell phone that each one had that was made in China. From the start you know that things are not what they seem as Guillermo Paz renters and we find him at the Farmer’s Market along with a priest and what they discuss leads back to the railroad, the owners and its history from 1883. Just what they discussed and why Paz watches out for Caitlin will be revealed as the story moves ahead but not before the author brilliantly informs readers that darkness will unfold and you won’t see it but it’s there hidden and ready to you might say pounce.
When Caitlin is told to stay away from Zhen she confronts him with what she learned. A rapist, dealing in drugs, porn and a hidden family secret if it comes out would destroy him but Zhen is smart and connected. Anyone that crosses him or gets in his way winds up dead or worse. Flashing back from the present to the past we learn more about the connection to the Chinese, the real reason behind what Zhen has planned and the hope that both Cort Wesley and Caitlin can find a way to stop him. But, things heat up and tensions rise and Paz goes in one direction and meets some deadly snakes while Caitlin is about to find out just how dark her world will become. Did Li Zhen kill General Chang? Why? What did the medical examiner find that would link him to his death and that of the four homeless men? Why did the entire Chinese women die in so many different states and who was behind it? What happens when Dylan learns the truth about Kai and the reasons she said she needed his help? Danger is on every corner. Both Dylan and his brother Luke need protection as Cort Wesley along with Caitlin Strong fight an unknown and dangerous enemy to stop the murders of millions. Just how would this be accomplished and what happens when Kai confronts her father? What would you do if your father sent you away to become a prostitute and trained as a slave? What happens will stun readers and this young girl faces off with a diabolical killer. Strong Darkness: When will the clouds and storm lift or will it before it’s too late? Only author Jon Land can deliver a novel with so many complex themes and so many who find revenge the only way to satisfy their appetites. When the past and the present unite: Watch out for a mass explosion!
Fran Lewis: reviewer