The final battle of the Border War between Mexico and the U.S. took place in 1919. With the city of El Paso, Texas, as the primary target, American forces held back the rebel forces led by Pancho Villa. Years prior, starting around 1910, the Mexican drug trade began with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border. This not only triggered the battle with American law enforcement but also helped to finance the Mexican Revolution.
Enter STRONG RAIN FALLING, as the present day finds two deadly attacks that may have origins back in these Texas-Mexico battles. Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is accompanying Dylan Torres, the son of her colleague, Cort Wesley Masters, to a college in Providence, Rhode Island. Caitlin and Dylan find themselves in the middle of a shootout at a college campus festivity, and it appears that the well-armed attackers are Mexican. Caitlin guns down four men.
"Quite frankly, Caitlin Strong is one of the best and most refreshing characters in thriller fiction today, and Jon Land continues to produce a series that combines top-notch suspense writing with a plot that is firmly grounded in history."
Simultaneously, Cort and his 14-year-old son, Luke, are attacked while at a Six Flags amusement park in San Antonio. They escape unscathed --- with the help of their mysterious ally and former Mexican Colonel, Guillermo Paz. The two events are not a matter of coincidence, and further digging into possible motives turns up the deadly fact that the two teens were indeed the targets of the Mexican shooters.
The reason is revenge, and the history goes all the way back to the events described earlier in the Mexican Revolution. In addition to Caitlin’s relatives --- father and grandfather --- being part of the U.S. Rangers force known as Strong’s Raiders, there was more specific involvement by the relatives of Cort and his late wife, whose last name was Torres. There continues to be bad blood among current Mexican descendants of the drug smugglers working to fund the Mexican Revolution, and the target of their vengeance is the boys’ late mother --- a relative of Emiliano Zapata, who aided in wiping out the early drug lords.
A very powerful Mexican woman is leading this act of vengeance, and the plans she has involve much more than mere assassination attempts of teenage boys. She has a deadly agenda that includes a plot that would potentially cripple the U.S. and send the country into a new dark age. The frightening plausibility of this plot makes Caitlin and company highly concerned, and they have no choice but to inform Homeland Security. The result is a showdown that is so nerve-wracking that readers will be shuddering as they turn the pages.
Quite frankly, Caitlin Strong is one of the best and most refreshing characters in thriller fiction today, and Jon Land continues to produce a series that combines top-notch suspense writing with a plot that is firmly grounded in history. This blending of fact and fiction makes for an exciting ride, and you’ll be eagerly anticipating Strong’s next challenge.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 16, 2013