Title: Strong Cold Dead
Series: A Caitlin Strong Novel #8
Author: Jon Land
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural
In her storied career as a Texas Ranger, Caitlin
has confronted all manner of villains, but nothing
that’s prepared her for the terrorist group ISIS’s
pursuit of a devastating weapon on Lone Star State
soil. The land in question lies on an Indian reservation
where a drilling operation steeped in mystery and
controversy is about to commence under the
auspices of shadowy billionaire Cray Rawls.
But Rawls is only one of Caitlin’s problems. Her
surrogate son Dylan, the oldest boy of her reformed
outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters, has joined the
tribe to protest Rawls’ desecration of the sacred
Indian lands. The same desecration that has unearthed
an ancient evil Caitlin’s own great-great-grandfather
fought nearly 150 years before. There’s also a twisted
genius who’s uncovered the true nature of that evil, a
young man with whom Caitlin shares a past now
poised to deliver Armageddon from Texas’ canyonlands.
To save millions from a horrible fate at the hands of ISIS,
Caitlin and Cort Wesley must sort through a web of
death and deceit as tangled as the blood-soaked grounds
of the reservation that hold a deadly secret. A secret
that’s the source of a battle rooted in the past and now
destined to determine the shape of the future.
Travels with Jon Land
I had the opportunity once to meet the great Milton Caniff, the incredible cartoonist who created the iconic Steve Canyon and Terry and the Pirates comic strips. Milton’s work over the years spanned the globe, but he freely admitted he traveled as little as possible, calling himself “an armchair Marco Polo.”
I started my career in writing, with that same mindset. And I also developed a tradition where the first copy of each published book I received would go to my Brown University mentor, the great Elmer Blistein, who’d then take me to lunch a few days later to give me his thoughts. At these lunches, in the early years of my career, one thing would always be the same: Professor Blistein would proceed to tell me, based on his read, all the places I actually went to in the book and all the ones I didn’t—and he was never wrong, not even once! That kind of clued me into the fact that something was missing in my writing, specifically a sense of place, of setting, of scenery that brings writing to life.
So this armchair Marco Polo hit the road for a series of trips, call them adventures, over a bunch of years that helped me hone my craft and develop myself into the writer I am today.
My first trip overseas was to England, where I was lucky enough to have a private guide, a friend of a friend, who showed me things like the catacomb-like network of tunnels beneath London that gave Charles Dickens the idea for Oliver Twist. He showed me the back alleys and side streets prowled by “rent boys” and all manner of urban low-lifes. I went to Cornwall where the sound of the sea striking at the rocks at the base of a cliff has stuck with me to this day. I spent some time with a good friend and teacher at the famed Reading School, where I learned what a dank cold really was when the moisture from the grass soaked through my shoes and socks. I didn’t think they’d ever get warm again and had to borrow a pair of socks just to stop shaking.
I used scenes from that trip in a whole bunch of my earlier titles, including The Eighth Trumpet, The Gamma Option, and Labyrinth. My point here was that I had gotten hooked on how vital actually seeing, hearing and smelling things were to taking my writing to the next level.
My next trip was to Israel. I went there during a relative time of peace and had a guide who was part-Palestinian. That allowed me to venture deeper into the West Bank then most tourists could ever dream of. I also climbed Masada and spent hours choreographing a climactic battle scene. But it was meeting and speaking with Palestinians on their own turf I remember most, an experience that actually birthed an entire series of seven books featuring Palestinian-American cop Ben Kamal teaming up with Israeli police detective Danielle Barnea. The series did very well, in large part because I was writing about places I’d actually been to.
Same thing was true when I decided to set a bunch of scenes in The Omicron Legion in Rio de Janeiro, specifically having my hero, Blaine McCracken, rescued by Rio’s marauding street kids. The first thing they told me when I got to Rio circa 1987 was “Stay away from the street kids.” So, of course, what did I do? I found some, thanks to a great guide, and hung out with them. Even had lunch delivered to ten of them with me at the beach adjoining the Sheraton Viigadal after the hotel told me they couldn’t serve them on the premises.
After that, I spent three days at Disney World choreographing the climax of The Fires of Midnight, a couple at Colonial Williamsburg for the climax of The Omicron Legion, and several in Washington D.C. for Day of the Delphi where I spoke a little too loudly about placing a sniper in the old Post Office Tower. You get the idea. These were great experiences all that helped define me in the earlier days of my career as a high-action writer who specialized in the extended sequences that weaved through the places I had painstakingly walked, photographed, and hastily scrawled notes I’d later fight to decipher.
Then Google came along. All of a sudden sights, sounds, and even smells were a search box away. I admit to Google turning me back more into an armchair Marco Polo. That is until I started traveling to Texas to bone up on all things Lone Star State for my series of books featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, the most recent of which is Strong Cold Dead.
Know something? Google can’t describe a West Texas sand storm; you need to see and feel one. In Strong Cold Dead, I’d never have been able to write about Houston’s underground pedestrian tunnels, Dallas’s Klyde Warren Park that’s built on a mothballed overpass, or the Blue Bonnet Café’s pie happy hour from 5-8 every day. Or that the best cowboy boots in the state can be bought at Allen’s Boots in Austin, or that the Balcones Canyonlands would make the ideal setting for a fictional Indian Reservation. Did you know Midland, Texas is the fastest growing city in America? Neither did I until I went there.
I can’t say that my commitment to travel is as great as it was a few years back. But I can say Professor Elmer Blistein was right, and that being an armchair Marco Polo is no substitute for the real thing.
About the Author
Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of 38 novels, including eight titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller and Strong Light of Day which won the 2016 International Book Award for Best Thriller-Adventure, the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller, and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery. The latest title in the series is Strong Cold Dead, published on October 4 and about which Strand Magazine said is “certain to rank Land among a handful of our most talented thriller authors of this decade.” Land has also teamed with multiple New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on a new sci-fi series, the first of which, The Rising, will be published by Forge in January of 2017. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Follow the tour:
10/01 Interview/Showcase @ Brooke Blogs
10/02 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
10/03 Review @ CMash Reads
10/05 Review @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
10/06 Review @ The Book Divas Reads
10/08 Showcase @ Hott Books
10/09 Guest Post @ Buried Under Books
10/11 Interview @ Books Chatter
10/13 Review @ Books, Dreams, Life
10/16 Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
10/17 Review @ fundinmental
10/18 Review @ A Bookaholic Swede
10/20 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
10/24 Review @ just reviews
10/26 Review @ Celticladys Reviews
10/27 Review @ Bookishly me
10/27 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis
10/29 Review @ Curling Up by the Fire
To enter the drawing for a signed
copy of Strong Cold Dead, leave a
comment below. The winning name will
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Open to residents of the US and Canada.