Strong Cold Dead - Tor/Forge Blog



New Releases: 10/3/17

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Placeholder of  -31 The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach—but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.


The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Place holder  of - 55 The rule is simple: don’t bleed.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?


An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea by Patrick Taylor

Apes and Angels by Ben Bova

Home for Christmas by Andrew M. Greeley

Strong Cold Dead by Jon Land

Treachery’s Tools by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Whiteout by Sage Walker


Masamune-kun’s Revenge Vol. 6 Story by Takeoka Hazuki; Art by Tiv


New Releases: 10/4/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

All Your Wishes by Cat Adams

All Your Wishes by Cat AdamsA client begs Celia Graves—part human, part Siren, part vampire—to help return a genie to his bottle. The attempt makes Celia a target for the currently incorporeal ifrit. If she doesn’t give him her body, he’ll kill everyone she loves. If she does, he’ll use her physical form to free thousands of evil djinn.

Celia’s not going to hand over her body, but her client tries to trick her into it—so that he can kill the ifrit while it’s trapped in her flesh. That doesn’t end well for the client. Celia might not get paid for the gig, but she’s got to get the ifrit re-bottled before all hell breaks loose—possibly literally!

An Irish Country Love Story by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Love Story by Patrick TaylorIt’s the winter of 1967 and snow is on the ground in the colorful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, but the chilly weather can’t stop love from warming hearts all over the county. Not just the love between a man and woman, as with young doctor, Barry Laverty, and his fiancee Sue Nolan, who are making plans to start a new life together, but also the love of an ailing pensioner for a faithful dog that’s gone missing, the love of the local gentry for the great estate they are on verge of losing, or Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly’s deep and abiding love for his long-time home and practice.

Stranded by Bracken MacLeod

Stranded by Bracken MacLeodBadly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. One by one, the men fall prey to a mysterious illness. Deckhand Noah Cabot is the only person unaffected by the strange force plaguing the ship and her crew, which does little to ease their growing distrust of him.

Strong Cold Dead by Jon Land

Strong Cold Dead by Jon LandThe terrorist organization ISIS is after a deadly toxin that could be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. The same toxin holds the potential to eradicate cancer. There is a frantic race to see who can get to it first, even as Caitlin Strong begins to assemble the disparate pieces of a deadly puzzle.

At the center of that puzzle is an Indian reservation where a vengeful tycoon is mining the toxin, disguising his effort as an oil-drilling operation. This is the same reservation where Caitlin’s great-great-grandfather, also a Texas Ranger, once waged a similar battle against the forces of John D. Rockefeller.


Impersonations by Walter John Williams

Impersonations by Walter John WilliamsNebula Award-winning author Walter Jon Williams returns to the sweeping space opera adventure of his Praxis universe with an exciting new novel featuring the hero of Dread Empire’s Fall!

Having offended her superiors by winning a battle without permission, Caroline Sula has been posted to the planet Earth, a dismal backwater where careers go to die. But Sula has always been fascinated by Earth history, and she plans to reward herself with a long, happy vacation amid the ancient monuments of humanity’s home world.


1949 by Morgan Llywelyn

Air and Darkness by David Drake

An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War by Patrick Taylor

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Solar Express by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

This Shared Dream by Kathleen Ann Goonan

White Desert and Port Hazard by Loren D. Estleman


Golden Time Vol. 5 Story by Yuyuko Takemiya; Art by Umechazuke

Magical Girl Apocalypse Vol. 9 by Kentaro Sato

My Pathetic Vampire Life Vol. 1 Story and art by Rose Ishikawa


The Modern Day Western

Strong Cold Dead by Jon LandWritten by Jon Land

My Caitlin Strong books have often been referred to as modern day westerns. While I’d like to take credit for starting that trend, it goes back far longer than Caitlin and me. In fact, the contemporary western dates all the way back to the national disillusion over the Vietnam War, coupled in rapid succession by loss of faith in our own government thanks to Watergate. The country found itself craving old-fashioned, no-holds-barred heroes who could we believe in. Strong (no pun intended!) men with a simple ethos and base nobility in which they stood as the lone hope against bad guys determined to make the world worse for ordinary people. The trend, in my humble opinion, began not in books, but in movies. So, in honor of the release of The Magnificent Seven remake, let’s explore seven examples of the modern day western that have so influenced the form of the thriller novel in pop culture.

Dirty Harry: Clint Eastwood’s seminal, star-making turn as a loner cop breaking all the rules to track down a serial killer. The setting of 1970s San Francisco could just as easily have been the plains roamed by the Man with No Name in the spaghetti westerns in which Clint cut his teeth. Harry Callahan is a character literally defined by his gun, making the .44 Magnum famous as well. A great uncredited rewrite by John Millius turned a simple cop film into a portrait of a modern day gunfighter’s obsession with seeing justice done, ending in identical fashion to the Gary Cooper classic High Noon.

Star Wars: A “space western” that contains all the staples of the form right down to the villainous gunfighter in black, as personified by Darth Vader, only with a light saber instead of a Colt .45. Add to that Luke Skywalker’s ingénue evolving into a heroic force of good, the blaster-wielding gunslinger in Han Solo, a rescue sequence (a la The Professionals), and a climactic gun battle transposed into outer space. The result draws upon Akira Kurosawa’s western-inspired samurai movies in crafting an industry-changing masterpiece.

Die Hard: Speaking of modern day gunfighters, Bruce Willis’s John McClane calls himself Roy Rogers and leaves us with a great take on this theme by uttering the famous line, “Yippy-Ki-Yay, mother_______!” to the villainous Hans Gruber amid their final shootout. In that sense, he’s the classic gunman who finds himself in the wrong place/town at the wrong time. Nakatomi Tower becomes a microcosm for a world run by bad guys at the expense of the rest of us. And, like Alan Ladd in Shane, McClane finds himself hopelessly outnumbered which doesn’t stop him from triumphing in the end.

Lethal Weapon: Jack Schaeffer conceived the aforementioned Shane as a kind of “savior psychopath,” who possesses many of the same qualities as those he’s determined to defeat. So it is with Mel Gibson’s Riggs character, as conceived by screenwriter Shane Black. The suicidal Riggs is utterly unhinged and every bit as much a psychopath as Mitchell Ryan’s Shadow Company stone faces, led by Gary Busey as Mr. Joshua. The final scene, in which Riggs challenges Joshua to what is essentially a gun fight without guns, opens with the line, “What do you say, Jack? You want a shot at the title?” Shane couldn’t have said it better.

Robocop (just the original, please!): When Tombstone was overrun by outlaws, they sent for Wyatt Earp. When Detroit of the future faces a comparable menace, they build their own Wyatt Earp in the form of the title character and let him loose to clean up the crime-riddled streets. Remember how Peter Weller’s character twirls his gun to impress the son his new identify forces him to abandon? You think the filmmakers didn’t know exactly the metaphor they were pushing? The film’s villainous Clarence Boddicker is the classic western outlaw, a power-mad creature of corruption it takes a machine with a heart bigger than most humans to bring down.

No Country for Old Men: The purest “postmodern” western on our list, since (in both the book and the exceptionally faithful film adaptation) Tommy Lee Jones’s saintly old-school sheriff never actually confronts Javier Bardem’s twistedly terrifying Anton Chigurh. But the drug deal gone wrong harks back to any number of stagecoach and bank robberies that define so many westerns. And Chigurh’s malevolent menace is reminiscent of every black-clad baddie ever to rampage through the Old West. A creature not so much of the land, as fate itself and thus defined purely in the moment, giving us no idea from where he came or where he’s going next.

Jack Reacher: Okay, Tom Cruise isn’t as big or as bruising as Lee Child’s iconic, nomadic hero who carries only a toothbrush while taming one town, and one book, after another. But Cruise otherwise nails the character’s sensibility to a T. Reacher is a classic western gunfighter, unable to settle down and on a quasi-Quixotic journey to right the wrongs of the world perpetrated on ordinary people like you and I. He vanquishes the bad guys, then mounts a bus instead of a horse to ride on to his next adventure. Not a whole lot different than Paladin from the classic TV western, Have Gun, Will Travel.

Those are my choices. Would love to hear if you have any you’d like to add.

Buy Strong Cold Dead here:

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Sneak Peek: Strong Cold Dead by Jon Land

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Strong Cold Dead by Jon LandTexas Ranger Caitlin Strong returns in Jon Land’s Strong Cold Dead, a thriller with heart-stopping action and a high-stakes terrorist plot.

The terrorist organization ISIS is after a deadly toxin that could be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. The same toxin holds the potential to eradicate cancer. There is a frantic race to see who can get to it first, even as Caitlin Strong begins to assemble the disparate pieces of a deadly puzzle.

At the center of that puzzle is an Indian reservation where a vengeful tycoon is mining the toxin, disguising his effort as an oil-drilling operation. This is the same reservation where Caitlin’s great-great-grandfather, also a Texas Ranger, once waged a similar battle against the forces of John D. Rockefeller.

In her highest-stakes adventure yet, Caitlin Strong faces off against a host of adversaries that just might include the beautiful Comanche girl with whom the son of her ex-outlaw boyfriend Cort Wesley Masters has fallen in love, along with a mythic monster culled from Native American folklore that the tribe believes has risen to protect its land. The lives of those Caitlin loves most are threatened by the villains she’s pursuing; her own moral code is challenged. The fate of both the country and the state she loves are dangling on the precipice of a strong cold death.

Strong Cold Dead will become available October 4th. Please enjoy this excerpt.



“What ’xactly you make of this, Ranger?”

Texas Ranger Steeldust Jack Strong looked up from the body he was crouched alongside—or what was left of it. “Well, he’s dead all right.”

The male victim’s suit coat had been shredded, much of the skin beneath it hanging off the bone. He’d worn his holster low on his hip, gunfighter style, and his pearl-handled Samuel Walker Colt was the latest model, updated from the one Jack Strong had used since joining the Texas Rangers after the Civil War.

Steeldust Jack checked what was left of the man’s shirt for a darker patch where a badge, removed after he’d been killed, would have blocked out the sun, but he found none. So this was no Texas lawman, for sure, but a gunman of some sort all the same, who’d managed to get himself torn apart just outside a stretch of land set aside for the Comanche Indian reservation a half day’s ride out of Austin.

Steeldust Jack rose awkwardly on his gimpy leg until he was eye to eye with Abner Denbow, the county sheriff who’d sent a rider to the state capital to bring back a Texas Ranger from the company headquartered there.

“Fought plenty of Indians myself over the years,” Denbow told him. “I believe that makes me the wrong man to venture onto that land the government gave them for no good call I could see.”

“It was Sam Houston who gave this patch to the Comanche originally,” Steeldust Jack reminded.

“Yeah, well even the great ones make mistakes, I suppose.”

The recently signed Medicine Lodge Treaty had deeded this parcel to the Comanche, dividing them from their brethren who were settled, along with the Apache, in southwestern Indian territory, between the Washita and Red rivers. A treaty was supposed to mean peace. With the exception of the peaceful sect that had settled on this reservation, though, the Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa continued to make war, conducting raids on civilians and cavalry officers alike. It was that fact, along with the general lawlessness along Texas’s increasingly populace frontier, that had led to the Rangers being officially reconstituted just a few months before.

For the first time in the state’s history, Texas had a permanent Ranger force. But the ruin of his leg by Civil War shrapnel kept Steeldust Jack from joining up with the Frontier Battalion for which his gunslinging skills made him a better fit. Instead, he was assigned to one of the newly chartered Ranger companies responsible for patrolling various parts of the state to keep the law. And today keeping the law meant figuring out what the body of a well-dressed gunman was doing within spitting distance of an Indian reservation.

“Any indication there of who he might be?” Denbow asked Steeldust Jack.

“I can’t find a wallet on him, Sheriff. But the boots this man’s wearing are practically new, and the wear on his trousers tells me they’re pretty much new too. Given there ain’t much left of his face, I don’t suspect anybody’ll be recognizing the man anytime soon.”

Denbow took off his hat and scratched at his scalp, which was marred by scaly, reddened skin. “Looks like the work of a bear to me. That was my first thought.”

“You ever seen a bear kill, Sheriff?”

“No, sir, I have not.”

“People normally run and the bear gets them from behind. So that’s where you find the initial wounds. Only this man’s got no wounds at all on his back. He also doesn’t have any wounds on his hands and arms consistent with trying to ward the animal off.”

“You’re the Ranger made a name for himself in the war,” Denbow said suddenly, his cheeks looking plump and rosy in the harsh, hot light of the afternoon. I recognize you from the limp.”

Steeldust Jack looked at him, without changing expression. “You know how I made that name for myself?”

“Not exactly.”

“I came home.”

Which was true enough in Jack Strong’s mind. He’d proudly served the Confederacy as an infantry officer with the Texas Brigade, under General John Bell Hood. The brigade distinguished itself during the Seven Days Battles, where it routed Northern forces at Gaines’s Mill, captured a battery of guns, and repulsed a cavalry counterattack. Its status was further strengthened when it spearheaded a devastating assault at the battle of Second Manassas, overrunning two Union regiments and capturing a battery of guns.

The Texas Brigade’s reputation for fighting was sealed at the Battle of Sharpsburg, when it closed a gap in the Confederate line and drove back the two attacking Union corps. Of the 854 that went into battle at Sharpsburg, 550 members of the Texas Brigade were killed or wounded. Being one of the survivors allowed Steeldust Jack to fight in the Battle of Gettysburg.

“You took Devil’s Den with a bullet still lodged in your leg,” Denbow said, as if suddenly recalling the story.

“Lots of men took Devil’s Den, and lots more died in the process. But there weren’t enough of us left to take Little Round Top, and you know the rest. Anyway, unlike most that day, I made it home.”

The bullet was gone now, but too much shrapnel remained in his leg to risk removal. The field docs had wanted to take his whole leg instead of bothering, but Steeldust Jack was hearing none of that. He’d earned that nickname for shooting so fast and reloading so quick that it seemed a cloud of steel dust from the bullet residue hung in the air over him. The nickname had stuck and had accompanied him back to Texas, where still having both legs allowed him to ride and fish with his boy, William Ray, who’d recently followed his father into the service of the Texas Rangers.

All the same, the wound’s lingering effects made it hard to stand too long on his gangly legs. Any quick step stretched a grimace across his expression, tightening the sinewy band of muscles stitched across his arms, chest, and shoulders.

“So it wasn’t a bear,” Denbow was saying, eyes back on the well-dressed stranger’s body.

“It wasn’t a bear.”

“Then what was it?”

Steeldust Jack turned his gaze in the direction of the Comanche reservation. “Think I’ll see if somebody there can tell me.”

Denbow scratched at his scalp again, deepening the red patches, which looked like spilled paint. “You might want to reconsider your intentions there.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’ve heard stories, that’s all.”


“About the Comanche living on this here reservation. A strange lot, for sure, gone back to living the old ways, since way back before they ever even saw a white man. I heard tell some of them been alive at least that long, that they got some deal with their gods that lets ’em live forever.”

“Stories,” Steeldust Jack repeated.

“They never leave the reservation, Ranger. Live off whatever they can fish or farm, and make do with the rest of whatever’s around them. At night, when the wind’s right, you can hear ’em performing all these rituals about God knows what.”

“Anything else?”

“They’re a dangerous lot for sure, that’s all.”

Steeldust Jack didn’t look convinced. He lumbered all the way back upright, grimacing until he was standing straight again.

“Tell you what’s dangerous, Sheriff,” he said, his gaze tilted low toward the body of the unidentified man. “Whatever did this. ’Cause I got a feeling it’s not finished yet.”

Copyright © 2016 by Jon Land

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