Friday, April 26, 2019



1994: Texas Ranger Jim Strong investigates a mass murder on a dusty freight train linked to a mysterious, missing cargo for which no record exists.

The Present: His daughter, fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, finds herself on the trail of that same cargo when skeletal remains are found near an excavation site in the Texas desert. She’s also dealing with the aftermath of a massacre that claimed the lives of all the workers at a private intelligence company on her watch.

These two cases are connected by a long-buried secret, one that men have killed and died to protect. Caitlin and her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters must prove themselves to be as strong as steel to overcome a bloody tide that has been rising for centuries.

Book Details:

Title: Strong as Steel

Author: Jon Land

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Forge (April 23, 2019)

Series: Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, book 10

Print length: 336 pages
On tour with: Partners in Crime Book Tours


Jon, what’s the story behind the title of your book?

Part of the series brand is to always have STRONG begin the title. The fact that the phrase “Strong as Steel” is so ingrained in the pop culture lexicon made it a natural choice. And, crediting my great editor at Forge, Bob Gleason, it was his idea!

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
Although this is the tenth book in the Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, readers can feel very comfortable starting off with it, or any other title, because I write all the books as if the latest title is a reader’s first experience. I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve picked up in the middle of a series. From Robert Parker (Spencer), to James Lee Burke (Dave Robicheaux) to James Hall (Thorn), I can’t tell how many series I’ve started in the middle, which I imagine is the case for the majority of readers.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Never to take anything for granted and to take pleasure in simple things and pursuits. Our greatest failure as human beings is not to realize how important something or someone is until it’s gone.

What do you love about where you live?
Writing is all about finding a comfort zone and what I love most about where I live is that it’s the centerpiece of that comfort zone, of the life style I’ve built around my career. Writing is one of those very rare avocations where the work stays with you after you’ve finished for the day and being comfortable where you live is crucial to keeping the creative juices flowing.

What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
Not to take success for granted, and especially not to expect that success to continue on an upward track unabated.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
Tying in with the question above, I lived beyond my means for a few years expecting those means to catch up and then trying to figure out what to do when it they never did. I should have done a better job managing my money—you know, all the assorted financial stuff. Writers are by nature dreamers and sometimes those dreams get in the way of a stark reality.

What makes you nervous?
The health and safety of people I care about, and tying in with the answer above, some months wondering how I’m going to make ends meet.

What makes you happy?
Being around people whose company I genuinely enjoy based on relationships I genuinely value. As you get older, you come to appreciate the importance of that more and more.

What makes you scared?
Health issues comes to mind first, but also one day coming to grips with the fact that I don’t have enough work, and can’t find enough work, to get by.

What makes you excited?

New opportunities that bring great potential to the table and older opportunities that pay off in some unexpected way.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

Yogi Berra’s “The future ain’t what it used to be.” I think those words say it all when it comes to both the world in which we live and the business in which I work.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

Right where I’m typing this from now. Enough said.

What would your main character say about you?

I’d like to think that Caitlin would say I’ve captured the essence of her character and portrayed her in a way that makes her think she’s looking in the mirror. That I “get” the fact that she has a gunfighter mentality that makes it a challenge for her to find happiness outside of working as a Texas Ranger.

How did you create the plot for this book?
SPOILER ALERT: I’m always looking for the “McGuffin” of my next Caitlin Strong book. But I was Googling something else entirely, and I don’t even remember what, when I came across this: BURIAL BOXES MARKED WITH JESUS’ NAME REVEALED IN JERUSALEM ARCHAEOLOGICAL WAREHOUSE. And BOOM! I knew I had found the conceptual engine to drive Caitlin’s next adventure. Coincidentally, I’d wanted to make Strong as Steel a more traditional thriller cut from the cloth of James Rollins and Steve Berry, and envisioned a scene with something long buried in the Texas desert getting dug up to fuel the story. Of course, at that point very early on in the process, I had no idea what that was going to be. Fortune, as they say, is the residue of design.

Is your book based on real events?
I make heavy use of real events in Strong as Steel, but I don’t base the book on them. That would be too limiting and confining.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King because he’s been doing it so well for so long. David Morrell because he pretty much invented the kind of book I write. The late Robert Ludlum because reading his earlier thrillers made me want to write them more than anybody else. James Lee Burke because he’s a fantastic novelist as well as mystery-thriller writer and never disappoints. Michael Connelly because he’s a magician when it comes to pitch-perfect plotting highlighted by just the right amount of conflict on every page. I could go on forever!

What book are you currently reading and in what format?

I only read print books and prefer hardcover. Right now I’m reading Michael Connelly’s Two Kinds of Truth and Tim Dorsey’s hilarious No Sunscreen for the Dead.

Do you have a routine for writing?
Not only do I have one, it pretty much defines my life, as is the case for most writers. We have to be creatures of our routine because that’s where the discipline to get the work done stems from.  I work in two sessions daily, broken up by going to the gym to work out in the middle.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
The second bedroom upstairs in my townhouse condo. In those two sessions mentioned above from, say, 11:00-3:00 and then again from 8:00-midnight. But not all of that is writing. Plenty of it is dealing with email correspondence, promotion, E-interviews like this. Remember too, that all writing entails a big chunk of rewriting, so plenty of the time I’m revising, polishing, and refining.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
Take your pick from the slew of 1-star reviews on Amazon for Manuscript for Murder. See, I’ve also taken over writing as Jessica Fletcher for the Murder, She Wrote series and have put my own stamp on that series. Because long-time fans of the previous 46 books have not all responded positively to my approach, I try to distill construction criticism from the haters. I believe no matter how scathing, there is something to be taken from any negative feedback. A matter of turning a negative into a positive.

What are you working on now?

I’m thrilled (no pun intended!) to say here, for the first time in print, that I’m now finishing up a book that’s the sequel to the classic crime film Donnie Brasco. I’ve teamed up with the legendary Joe Pistone (the real Donnie Brasco played by Johnny Depp in the movie) to begin a series that reimagines Donnie as a fictional thriller hero instead of an undercover alias. How about that?



Dallas, Texas

“You want to tell me what I’m doing here again?” Caitlin Strong said to Captain Bub McNelly of the Texas Criminal Investigations Division.

McNelly, who favored string ties and shiny cowboy boots, turned to the quartet of figures in equally shiny windbreakers milling behind him in the makeshift staging area, who looked more like businessmen. Caitlin had heard he was a descendant of the famed Texas Ranger captain Leander McNeely, a man who’d once told the whole of the U.S. government to go to hell, but wasn’t too keen on the freedom with which Rangers still operated today.

“Special Response Teams hang their hat on being multi-jurisdictional,” McNelly told her. “Consider yourself the representative Ranger.”

“Since when does an SRT look more comfortable holding briefcases than firearms?”

“I need to tell you that computers are the real weapons these days?” McNelly asked her. “And those boys accompanying us are forensic experts who know how to fire back.”

“Just two guns, yours and mine, backing them up,” Caitlin noted.

“I don’t need a computer to do the math, Ranger,” McNelly said, while the four techs wearing windbreakers hovered behind them in front of the elevator. “You and I serve the warrant on the geek squad upstairs and let the experts do their thing with brains instead of bullets. How hard can it be?”

They were about to serve a search warrant on an information technology firm on the 42nd floor of the Chase Tower, the city’s tallest building. Caitlin had served plenty of more “traditional” search warrants in her time on the likes of biker gangs, drug dealers, and various other suspects. The kind of service that found her backed up by guns and plenty of them, instead of briefcases and backpacks.
A chime sounded ahead of the elevator door sliding open.

“In my experience,” Caitlin said, stepping in first to position herself so the door didn’t close again before the SRT computer forensics techs were inside, “it pays to have brains and bullets.”

McNelly smiled thinly. “That’s why you’re here, Ranger. You were specifically requested for the job.”

“By who?”

“I don’t know. Orders came from the top down.

The cab began its ascent. If this were a Ranger operation, as opposed to CID, Caitlin would have insisted on securing the space in question prior to bringing up the civilians. Because that was clearly what these personnel in ill-fitting windbreakers pulled from a rack were. Civilians.

“Get your warrant ready, Captain,” she told McNelly, as the cab whisked past the floors between “L” and “42.”

He flapped the tri-folded document I the air between them. “Got it right here.”

“What’s CTP stand for again?” Caitlin asked, referring to the acronym of the company on which they were about to serve the warrant.

“Communications Technology Providers. I thought I told you that.”

“Maybe you did, but you never told me what the company did to get on the Criminal Investigation Division’s radar. I’m guessing that’s because somebody ordered you to take me along for the ride.

All well and good in this political world we live in, until something goes bad.”

McNelly flashed Caitlin a smirk, as a chime sounded to indicate the elevator had reached its desired floor. “I can tell you this much, Ranger. The suspects we’re after here don’t know a gun from their own assholes. Worst thing they can do is infect us with a computer virus.”

He led the way through the open cab door, without waiting for Caitlin to respond. She exited next, followed in a tight bunch by those four computer techs in their windbreakers which made it look like they’d stuck their arms through Hefty bags.

The doors along the hall were uniformly glass, sleek and modern, some frosted. According to the building layout Caitlin had studied, Communications Technology Providers occupied a pair of adjoining office suites adding up to nearly five thousand square feet in total. One was a corner office, meaning at least a portion of those suites would enjoy wraparound windows and plenty of natural light.

Caitlin had just reflexively shoved her jacket back behind the holster housing her SIG Sauer P-226 nine-millimeter pistol, when the glass double-door entrance to Communications Technology Providers ruptured behind a fusillade of gunfire.

Excerpt from Strong As Steel by Jon Land.  Copyright © 2019 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.


Jon Land is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of 50 books, including ten titles in the critically acclaimed Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, the last of which, Strong to the Bone, won both the 2017 American Book Fest and 2018 International Book Award for Best Mystery Thriller. The next title in the series, Strong as Steel, will be published on April 23. Murder in Red, meanwhile, will mark his third effort writing as Jessica Fletcher for the Murder, She Wrote series when it’s published on May 28. He has also teamed with ThrillerMaster Heather Graham for a new sci-fi series starting with The Rising. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and can be reached at or on Twitter.

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