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.
Sometime back in a terrible past, someone had cut her badly and the lace-work of scars embraced her throat, ran down her chest to the dark hollow between her immense breasts. Not that they were beautiful breasts—not like the plush, streamlined ones on the long-gammed, flouncy-skirt babes pilots painted on their bombers during the war. No, unsupported, they flattened like sacks of flower, slapping this way and that under her blouse. Her hair was black and greasy. She had a mole next to her left
until it was but a hundred yards off on either side. But no one hailed them, no lights came on, no sound arose. The country rushed by in perfect darkness. Earl looked left and even at this late hour the Presidential Palace blazed brightly, lit up, its columns proclaiming a grandeur that really didn’t exist now, if it ever had. More menacing were the forts that guard the harbor entrance and bulked up on either side of the channel, military structures with heavy walls and openings for guns to
goddammit. I have business.” It was his command voice, dead and powerful and undeniable. “Swagger,” said the Russian, “I am a man of the people. But I am not a man of persons. This is a person. It is very sad but what happens to persons is of no consequence.” “I got her killed.” “She was a whore. Havana is a whore town. Tonight, as on any night, five thousand whores were fucked by twenty thousand men. Fifty of those whores were beaten because men beat whores. Of the fifty, one died. This night
that didn’t happen, couldn’t happen, wouldn’t happen. He had good steak and salad and passed on the drinks, though the two officers each belted back a couple of martinis apiece, and, loosened up, began to yap idiotically about “it,” by which he took it they meant the Agency. They didn’t say, but their curiosity was overwhelming. “What’s it like,” they wanted to know. “How secret is it? How tough to get in?” He knew the answers to none of their questions and really didn’t give a damn about
crawling or penetrating, a key rule: never, ever look at the man you’re trying to evade or fool. To do that is to risk alerting him and if he’s alerted, you are dead. They lay deep in the brambles, which snarled about them, scraping and cutting. They were surrounded in vegetation, in so far and so tight no one could believe a man, much less two, could penetrate that deep. Speshnev’s clothes were dark enough and, with his body, he covered the creamy lightness of the boy’s thin shirt. Hours seemed