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Hot Springs: A Novel (Earl Swagger) Mass Market Paperback – July 26, 2011
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A decent man haunted by his warrior past as well as the memory of his suffering at the hands of an abusive father, Earl yearns for the peace and quiet of domesticity with his wife Junie and the child she carries. But his need for "the hot pounding of the gun, the furious intensity of it all," is even more compelling. Earl's fearlessness in the face of danger is his defense against guilt over having survived both the war and his father's cruelty. Tasked with training a commando cadre to destroy Madden's criminal enterprise, Earl finds a way to channel his violent nature in the service of justice, despite his suspicions about his boss's political agenda, which threatens to compromise his assignment and destroy his team.
A prequel to Stephen Hunter's three well-reviewed suspense thrillers starring Earl's son, former marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger (Point of Impact, Black Light, Dirty White Boys), Hot Springs is bloody, hard-boiled fiction at its best. Hunter's precise descriptions of combat, hardware, and commando training are rendered in spare, uncluttered prose, and the melodrama around a key subplot--Earl's tangled, love-hate relationship with his murdered father--enhances rather than detracts from the novel's superb pacing and powerful narrative. Another subplot, involving Madden's rivalry with Bugsy Siegel, whose plan to create a rival sin city in Las Vegas threatens his own prominence, is less successful, but that's a minor quibble. While it's the only part of Hot Springs that doesn't fully engage the reader, it highlights Hunter's verisimilitude in depicting the heady post-World War II era. This is a highly readable book that should send grateful fans to Hunter's backlist as soon as they've turned the last page. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Earl Swagger is a WW II vet whose heroism and battlefield prowess earned him a Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima. As this book opens, he is receiving that medal from President Harry S Truman. However, the former Marine 1st Sgt has already been medically retired and is having difficulty readjusting to civilian life and a peacetime America. He also has a pregnant wife and is wondering what to do when he is given the opportunity to become part of something big. He is hired by an ambitious Arkansas prosecutor who wants to rid the town of Hot Springs of all its corrupting influences and the criminals who make their livings preying on the vices and weaknesses of others.
Earl and the famous FBI agent, D.A. Parker are hired to form a special team, a strike force to break up the gangster stranglehold on the town. Earl, who has had no sense of purpose since the end of the war initially becomes the drill instructor for the ad hoc team of 12 police officers from all over the country. While part of the plan is to rid Hot Springs of vice, the other part is to train these 12 policemen in modern methodologies so that they can go home and spread the experience around among their fellow officers back home.Read more ›
Earl returns from the Pacific campaign a Medal of Honor winner...a true hero. He is tapped to ramrod a strike force whose agenda is to put an end to the illicit activities so pervasive in Hot Springs, mostly controlled by Owney Maddox. The head of the strike force has grand polical ambitions, so Earl's enemies and allies both work against him.
Mr. Hunter brings the likes of Harry Truman, Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill, Mickey Rooney and Alan Ladd in for cameo appearances and sets the 1946 scene to perfection in many subtle ways.
The book moves at warp speed. You are compelled to turn pages in an attempt to keep up with the action.The story is presented from the minds of four or five main characters in alternating chapters so when you want to learn the outcome of one situation you must enjoy three or four more chapters to get that particular resolution. Like eating peanuts, you cannot read just one chapter.
Mr. Hunter delivers a nonstop action read laced with taut suspense and peopled with rich, well defined characters. No one (heroes especially) is perfect and this novel is hard boiled noir at its very best.
Unfortunately, as the latest installment, it's somewhat lacking. While it does have plenty of new revelations and background information for those readers already familiar with Stephen Hunter's characters, it doesn't have much else, and what's there feels a bit recycled. The plot is fairly straight-forward, lacking the dramatic cross-cutting of "Time to Hunt" and "Black Light", the twistedness of "Point of Impact", or the sheer intensity of "Dirty White Boys". Anyone who's read Hunter before knows exactly how it will end, and may even recognize the setting of the inevitable final showdown.
Still, it's good to see old friends like Earl Swagger and Sam Vincent again, as well as real-life historical characters like Bugs Siegel, Virginia Hill, and colorful FBI agent and trick shooter D.A. "Jelly" Bryce. (In a major role and only thinly disguised under the name "Parker".)There are also tantalizing hints that we may soon hear much more of Frenchy Short, whose character promises to be quite a departure for Hunter.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Stephen Hunter weaves a tail like no other. Firearms information is top notch. Ob-gyn, not so much, but can't have everything.Published 1 month ago by ronbwolf
It was just OK, and I truly kept reading it just to find out how the story ended. It really seemed like Hunter could have used a better editor since the paragraphs just went on and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sandy
I have the print copy and just had to have the digital copy to read when traveling.Published 4 months ago by John R Fulmer
I was introduced to this author, Stephen Hunter, via his stories following the exploits of ‘Bob the Nailer. Read morePublished 6 months ago by D. Blankenship