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The Contractors (A Jon Cantrell Thriller) [Kindle Edition]

Harry Hunsicker
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Private military contractors. They're not just for foreign wars anymore. Jon Cantrell, a disgraced ex-cop, works for one such company. He's a DEA agent paid on a commission basis, patrolling one of the busiest drug-hubs in the country: Dallas, Texas.

When Cantrell and his partner and sometimes lover confiscate the wrong shipment of drugs, they find themselves in possession of a star witness in an upcoming cartel trial that could destroy the largest criminal organization in the hemisphere.

To turn a profit, all they have to do is safely deliver the witness to the US Attorney on the other side of the state. An easy trip, except the witness doesn’t want to go and a group of competing DEA contractors and a corrupt Dallas police officer want everybody involved dead.

This heart-stopping thriller takes readers deep into a strange underworld where the lines between government officials and mercenaries blur. In this complex network of drug traffickers, cartels, politicians, and police, no one's hands are clean.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review: Set in Dallas and sparsely populated West Texas, Hunsicker’s first standalone packs a mean wallop. Captain Sinclair, a retired Dallas policeman, hires Jon Cantrell and his female partner, Piper, to bust a drug warehouse—a rich payday for the two DEA agents, but the prize for Sinclair is the opportunity to eliminate Eva Ramirez, a key witness against a Mexican cartel chief. The plan fails badly when Ramirez escapes in a shootout that leaves Cantrell and Piper minus their cut of the proceeds and scrambling for their lives. The shadowy, violent, legal and extra-legal War on Drugs not only claims many lives but involves endless deceptions on the part of those who fight it. Helping to make this a standout are perfectly drawn characters, nifty surprises, and a frightening portrayal of the federal government’s poorly monitored use and funding of “contractors” who are heavily armed and extremely dangerous. Hunsicker, author of the Lee Henry Oswald PI series (Crosshairs, etc.), has crafted a truly chilling thriller.

From Library Journal

In his new stand-alone, the author of the Lee Henry Oswald PI mysteries (Still River; The Next Time You Die) takes as his realistic premise the proliferation of private military contractors and the privatization of law enforcement. Ex-Dallas cop Jon Cantrell, along with his partner Piper (with a penchant for orphan charities and a shoot-to-kill policy), works for a private contractor, intercepting drug shipments along the U.S.-Mexico border. But when they confiscate the wrong load, all hell breaks loose—violence, murder, revenge, and shootouts are here aplenty. Verdict: Hunsicker has written a very good thriller, all the better for addressing the serious issue of narco-trafficking and privatization of law enforcement. His complex story line is plausible, very well paced yet also easy to follow. Characters both major and minor are well drawn and memorable, and the action sequences are convincing and compelling. The only drawback is the rather inappropriate humorous tone that detracts from a well-crafted novel of suspense.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1879 KB
  • Print Length: 514 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477808728
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (February 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,720 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No one, absolutely no one, is to be trusted. February 9, 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What does a disgraced former Dallas cop do for a living? In the state of Texas, despite a person's background or record, anyone can become a private contractor for the DEA. The multitude of companies that supply their employees with a badge and a gun is frightening. Not surprisingly, the drugs and corruption are rampant.

After a misguided episode of Texas-style justice, Jon Cantrell finds himself jobless. Coming from a long family background in law enforcement, Cantrell has hit an all-time low, and finds he has no option but to accept a job offer from the contracting company of Blue Dagger. He and his partner, Piper, work per diem tracking down teenage runaways and drug shipments.

Unfortunately, their current job goes horribly wrong: a drug shipment disappears and two men are dead. A competing contracting company accuses Cantrell and Piper, and the only person who can vindicate them is a star witness in a drug cartel trial. The law has a bounty on her head. The narcos want her dead. And Cantrell and Piper are caught in the middle.

In a desperate race to the other side of Texas with the witness, Cantrell and Piper are chased by corrupt law officials, drug-addled contractors, cartel sicarios, the FBI, even a state senator with his sights on the White House. And absolutely no one is to be trusted. No one.

The Contractors, apparently the beginning of a new series by Harry Hunsicker, is fast-paced and full of quirky characters. A former police captain runs illegal gambling houses but refuses to use a computer or even own a cell phone. Piper, an orphan and Cantrell's significant other in a strained relationship, sponsors children from foreign countries. Cantrell's sister has a strange and rare psychosexual disorder.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A whirlwind of a story. Thrilling and touching. May 8, 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At over 500 pages, this is a hefty book. It has to be because it has a ton of characters and each character has a story. Each character has an agenda. And each character has a past. The plot involves human trafficking, drugs and drug trafficking, dishonorable law enforcement personnel of every ilk, lots of human pathos, violence. But also demonstrates romantic and familial love, dedication to the greater good, and hope.

I'm sure there are dozens of reviews that discuss the plot ad nauseam so I will address some other issues. Of utmost importance to me is the quality of writing. This book is excellently written. For me, the writing became invisible, in that I was not caught up in flowery phrases or descriptions. Almost all the writing moves the story forward. It's written for intelligent adults who understand a wide vocabulary, without being arrogant. The "right" words provide nuance and flavor to writing, and Mr. Hunsicker's writing is just right.

The main characters have tenuous connections and relationships and as the story proceeds these characters draw closer and closer to the point where their agendas collide. All the characters are flawed to one degree or another, making their choices and behaviors more or less understandable, if not necessarily acceptable. The idea of hired contractors working for the government and/or private corporations and having enormous government sanctioned power, is chilling to me, as they are not portrayed here as having the best interests of the citizens of the United States as their guidelines. This is reminiscent of the news stories of the last decade and the private contractors who provided services in the Middle East.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Purposeless Action February 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The Contractors is about the shadowy world of government contractors and their multiple allegiances. Most of the contractors in this book are ex-law enforcement, and their ability to operate “off the books” while relying on government credentials for legitimacy gives them astronomical power. I love Nelson DeMille (who writes government and terrorism thrillers) and Hunsicker’s premise sounded similar to Demille, which is why I read this book.

Unfortunately, I could never seem to get into The Contractors. It felt like it went on forever (I didn’t realize going into it that it was 500 pages) and that is definitely not how a good thriller should feel. I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe why it didn’t speak to me. And, the best way I can put it is that it’s just random…in the sense that bizarre things kept happening that were ancillary to the story.

Strange characters appeared out of nowhere, caused a huge disturbance, and then vanished…never to be mentioned again. Central characters did things that made no sense, and no explanation ever cleared it up for me (for those that have read the book, Eva attacking “Goth Girl” in the gas station bathroom is an example of this). And, just plain “off the reservation” things happened that never fit organically into the story (ex: the appearance of Sadie) – even after I knew the ending. All these things just left me puzzled – and I questioned why Hunsicker chose to include them…and what exactly they were supposed to add.

It made me think of Top Chef (or any cooking competition show) when the judges dock contestants for adding elements that don’t fit well into the overall dish just for the sake of adding something.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
the plot became too rediculous
Published 14 hours ago by Ronald Holzhauer
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice read
Good story with lots of action.
Published 5 days ago by Peter Wilbur
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Entertaining, but more than a bit contrived, and consequently unbelievable
Published 5 days ago by Doctor Hal
4.0 out of 5 stars Ok book
I didn't totally dislike it but it's not one of my favorites either. It took about half way through it to get into the characters.
Published 12 days ago by Granny
5.0 out of 5 stars The Contractors
This author is a great story teller. From his very first sentence, he captures your attention and you must continue the read. I recommend this book.
Published 13 days ago by Kelly Gillespie
5.0 out of 5 stars Good thriller.
Good thriller. Jon Cantrell is a good character, an ex-cop working as a private military contractor. IT is a complicated fun story to read. based in Texas.
Published 16 days ago by J. Al-hashimi
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the sequel
I read the second Jon Cantrell book and was eager to read this. This one takes a long time to get underway, and a long time to wrap up. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Benarroe
3.0 out of 5 stars but not disappointed
An average story, wasn't excited, but not disappointed either
Published 19 days ago by Norman Klos
4.0 out of 5 stars Hunsicker rides again
I have read other works by Hunsicker and that is what put me on to Jon Cantrell. Jon is a bumbling anti-hero who is likable and attempts to do the right thing (in his eyes). Read more
Published 19 days ago by Carl
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book. Grips like no other book, deep characters and even deeper problems. Just awesome.
Published 23 days ago by Jeff Broyles
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More About the Author

Harry Hunsicker is a novelist and former executive vice-president of the Mystery Writers of America. His work has been short-listed for both the Shamus and Thriller Awards. Hunsicker's story "West of Nowhere," originally published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, was selected for inclusion in the anthology, "The Best American Mystery Stories 2011." His fourth novel, "The Contractors," was published in February 2014 by Thomas & Mercer.

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