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Hot Springs: A Novel (Earl Swagger) Mass Market Paperback – July 26, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Earl Swagger
  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Reprint edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451627238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451627237
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 4.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

You can get anything you want in postwar Hot Springs, Arkansas--girls, gambling, drugs, or booze--courtesy of gangster Owney Madden, a picaresque character who affects jodhpurs, ascots, and an English accent to disguise his origins in New York's Hell's Kitchen. A county prosecutor, ambitious for higher office, sees Madden's destruction as the key to his political future, and he thinks Medal of Honor winner Earl Swagger is the right man to break Madden's stranglehold on the corrupt city.

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

Furnished with brilliant period detail and a dynamo of a lead character, this big, brawny crime drama recountsDin highly fictionalized formDthe true story of the backlash against corruption and decadence in Hot Springs, Ark., during the years following WWII. Bobby Lee Swagger, the Vietnam vet hero of three of Hunter's previous books (most recently, Time to Hunt), is here supplanted as protagonist by his father. Earl Swagger, a fierce, highly decorated WWII Pacific theater warrior, is a man haunted by the horrors of war, as well as by the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his brutal father. Recruited by the district attorney in Hot Springs to help break the hold of mob boss Owney Maddox on the city, Earl, assisted by his team of "Jayhawkers," raids several casinos and whorehouses. He is unaware that he's being betrayed by elements within his unit and by outside forces he thought were on his side. Meanwhile, Earl's personal life is in tattersDhis wife is suffering through a perilous pregnancy and he can barely go a minute without mulling over his wartime sins. And he can't stop thinking back on life with his cruel, enigmatic father, his drunken mother, and his helpless younger brother, who committed suicide at 15 to escape it all. Hunter, a film critic for the Washington Post, has written a powerful, sweeping story, one that effectively deals with multiple themes: the anguish of war vets, deep-seated racism, and fairness and duty in personal and professional life. His prose, including some wonderful stretches of backwoods dialect and gritty scenes of physical and emotional turmoil, has that rare visual quality that takes the action off the page and into the mind. Agent, Esther Newberg at ICM. 200,000 first printing; optioned for film by Miramax; 8-city author tour. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Stephen Hunter won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism as well as the 1998 American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for Distinguished Writing in Criticism for his work as film critic at The Washington Post. He is the author of several bestselling novels, including Time to Hunt, Black Light, Point of Impact, and the New York Times bestsellers Havana, Pale Horse Coming, and Hot Springs. He lives in Baltimore.

Customer Reviews

Hard to put down once you Start reading.
Henry Zeglen
Hot Springs, by Stephen Hunter, is a prequel to his very popular, and successful, Bob Lee Swagger novels.
Gregg Eldred
The novel deals with the characters, the time and the place very well.
Peter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Kindler VINE VOICE on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the three "Bob the Nailer" offerings from Hunter, I looked forward to this novel whose central character is Earl Swagger -- WWII veteran, medal of honor winner, tortured soul, and father to Bob the Nailer. Although not as good as Point of Impact (which was an impressive page turner), Hot Springs did not disappoint. Early morning workouts on the stepper or exercise bike were not seen as drudgery but rather as an opportunity to pound out more pages of Hot Springs. Throughout the book, one comes to know and further appreciate the intricacies, both positive and negative, of being a Swagger. Action sequences and character development are interwoven and provide a complementary blend throughout the book. This novel is able to stand on its own as an action/thriller, but for those who have already completed the "Bob the Nailer" books, it also offers a good early glimpse at characters from previous novels and ties together events that are littered throughout those efforts. Certainly, this will not be the last novel from Hunter based on the Swagger clan.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By P. Connors on January 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hunter has hit another homer with HOT SPRINGS, a novel that is a variation on a theme given to his previous readers in POINT OF IMPACT, TIME TO HUNT and DIRTY WHITE BOYS. Instead of another outing with "Bob The Nailer" the master sniper readers have read about in previous novels, we get a rich text that tells the story of his father, Earl Swagger. Throughout this book, fans of Hunter's previous tales will find the origins of the myth that surrounds Bob Lee Swagger.
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By nobizinfla on June 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hunter is simply a spectacular story teller. This is the latest in the Swagger saga and could be considered the prequel. "Hot Springs" presents the back story of Earl Swagger (Bob Lee a.k.a. "Bob the Nailer's" father.)
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason Steiner on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I almost wish "Hot Springs" was my first Stephen Hunter novel. On its own, it's a solid, hard-boiled tale. It's also a prequel to almost all of his other novels, giving Hunter the perfect opportunity to show off his skill at foreshadowing and drawing connections between apparently unrelated stories, which is considerable. "Hot Springs" would make a great introduction to Hunter's work.
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.
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