Havana: An Earl Swagger Novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Outgunning all others in the arena of razor-edged action and sheer guts, New York Times bestselling author Stephen Hunter plunges Earl Swagger deep into a steamy underworld of power, politics, and blood. . . .
Cuba, 1953: The island is on fire.
The Mafia-run casinos are rolling, and it’s just a 30-minute flight from Miami to a world of vice, gambling, sex, and drugs. The money is there for anyone who knows how to get it, including the Cuban government and the police, who want to keep their ally Uncle Sam happy. There’s only one threat to this corrupt utopia: a silver-tongued, daring young revolutionary named Fidel Castro. With the Cold War under way, the Soviet Union has sent a sophisticated veteran agent to find and support the young upstart. To counter, the CIA has summoned Medal of Honor–winning ex–Marine sergeant Earl Swagger, whose heroic exploits have earned him the reputation of a man who doesn’t know how to lose. But he’s not just going to find Castro. . . .
He’s going to kill him.
pressing flesh, bumping into women’s plush butts, hugging and charming his way across the room. That everyone knew he’d been whoring and almost gotten in a hell of a mess didn’t seem to plague him in the least. He was who he was and that was that for Boss Harry Etheridge. “You know, Earl,” someone whispered to him, “you belong here.” It was Frenchy Short, of course. Earl merely grunted. “Earl, look around. These are people who matter. These are the cream of the cream. A lot of ’em got here by
bushes, under a flagpole, where the American flag waved eternally vigilant against the azure sky. And beyond—he could see, because they were on a slope—he observed a bustling harbor where sleek gray ships under the same proud banner either put out to sea or returned from sea, always on duty, always on the ramparts. This is what we’re offering the world, he thought, adoring the order, the cleanliness, the sense of high purpose everywhere evident, if only they aren’t so stupid as to turn it down.
barkeeper came up, in his red jacket and black tie, so fancy, Earl tried out his brothel Spanish to get a gin and tonic with no gin, but plenty of tonic. The cooling of the liquid helped some, and he had another pretend-drink, just minding his own business. Everyone seemed to be drinking milkshakes in cocktail glasses and behind the curved bar there was some kind of highly idealized view of the harbor as it must have looked from a conqueror’s ship heading inward. It was somewhere along in here
whatever it might bring. He worried that the man ahead would lose his way. He worried that the cars would lose contact with each other and wander, the whole unit breaking down into nothingness. He worried that he would be a coward. He worried that nothing would go as planned, that he would be captured and the legendary Ojos Bellos, whom all knew of and all feared, might cut his eyes out and make him sing a song of defeat and surrender and betrayal. He worried that he would die a forgotten
created. If the assemblage confirmed certain rumors, the cars outraced them to their destination. They rolled onward into the night. In the way that time collapses when that which is anticipated and seems forever away is suddenly upon you, they turned right off of the central thoroughfare of Victoriano Garzon and down the Avenue Moncada, passing the military hospital on the left, then a number of small wooden officers’ houses, buried in trees, and finally, at the intersection, arrived at