Strong Vengeance by Jon Land is the fourth Caitlin Strong, Texas Ranger thriller (available July 17, 2012).
1818: In the Gulf waters off the Texas coast, the pirate Jean Lafitte and his partner Jim Bowie launch an attack on the Mother Mary, a slave ship carrying an invaluable treasure.
The Present: Fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself investigating the murder of the oil rig crew that had found the long-lost wreckage of the Mother Mary. The crew also uncovered something else beneath the surface of the sea—something connected to a terrorist attack about to be launched by a mad American-born cleric who has recruited an army of homegrown terrorists.
Gulf waters off the coast of Texas, 1821
“Give me our bearings, Mr. Jeffreys,” Alfred Neal, captain of the Mother Mary, asked his first officer.
Jeffreys met Neal’s gaze with his hooded eyes, then once more consulted his map in the light shed by a lantern hanging from a pole. “The fog’s waylaid my direction, but we’re steering on course, Captain.”
The massive four-masted schooner creaked through the murky night, clumsily negotiating the Texas coast’s swampy channels. Low-hanging cypress branches scraped at the multidecked galleon’s sails, as gators darted back up on sodden land to avoid her lumbering menace. The fetid heat and stagnant air left the sweat to soak through the woolen jackets and cotton breeches of the men standing on the bridge, further attracting hungry mosquitoes fat with blood. The buzzing, blood-crazed swarms hung over the deck, thickening as the night wore on, perhaps having summoned more of their hungry brethren from the nearby shores.
“We’d best hope so,” Captain Neal grunted and rotated his spyglass again. But the night yielded nothing through the dense fog other than stagnant water the color of tea from fallen leaves both clinging to the surface and lining the bottom. Besides the gators, packs of swimming nutria, and an occasional night heron, the only signs of life the Mother Mary had encountered since nearing the Texas shores was an Indian paddling an old pirogue carved out of a tree trunk. And that was precisely the point, given the nature of the cargo now contained in the hold below. That much Neal had fully expected; it was the passenger who had boarded at the same port that had taken the ship’s captain by surprise.
“This is the right channel, sir,” Jeffreys resumed, returning his map to his belt pouch. “I’m sure of it.”
“You’d better be,” came the voice of that passenger from the other side of the bridge. Both Neal and Jeffreys watched the squat bulbous form of the man who said his name was Quentin Cusp step into the thin light cast by the lantern. “It’ll mark the end of your days on the seas if you’re wrong. Both of you.”
[Read the full excerpt of Strong Vengeance by Jon Land]