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.
Then the car curved around to the west, passed through grimy industrial neighborhoods, down busy streets, twisting now and then through smaller streets, then found a main concourse around Centro and soon plunged toward Santo Suarez. While he was in the car, Lansky changed from his well-tailored suit into something awful and cheesy: a loud Hawaiian shirt, a pair of ill-fitting lemon slacks and, most annoying to a man who loved the leather of fine shoes, some ridiculous sandals that exposed his toes to the world.
But he would be there. Meanwhile, Pepe negotiated. It was brief and intense and it turned out that Pepe had talents along these lines, suggesting that he’d done this ten or possibly fifteen thousand times before. It was all done in advance, so that when the boss arrived, all the embarrassing financial details would be worked out, all questions settled, all bills paid in full, and only the pleasure remained. There were three girls, the one the boss had chosen and two others. Mamasita told the two others to take a hike and they disappeared down the dark hall, leaving Esmeralda, as she was called, to face her fate, which was Boss Harry the American humanitarian politician.
One of the lamps, however, was somehow miswired, and it flickered and crackled and nobody had gotten around to fixing it yet. Like a broken radio, it leaked hiss and sputter into the night, while it pulsed orange weirdness across the land. Earl looked at Lane, bathed in the orange light so that he seemed to be an ice cream treat. Lane nudged him forward with a little shooing motion of his eyes. Earl got out, slipped toward the theater, and stepped in. It was shabby inside as out, and seemingly deserted, and a small box office under a sign in Spanish (but with $1.
He was infantile, a class goat picked on by the football captain. Frenchy let the binocs slide left to see this mysterious Mr. X who was running the show. What he saw was a wiry European in a dark bandanna like a peasant, and a peasant’s dirty smock and sandals, but something no peasant could ever have: intense and impenetrable dignity. It occurred to Frenchy that here was the real thing, so rarely glimpsed, almost mythological in Agency culture: a high-ranking, superbly trained and motivated true Red agent.
The business first. Always, the business first, and there’s much to do here, and it must be done discreetly, yes, to solidify and indemnify our position. ” “And then? ” “If it’s him, if we know it’s him. ” “Yes. ” “Then we kill the schmata. But always, business first. Then vengeance. Or, rather, justice. I could kill for that. ” Chapter 18 “Oh, the young crusader! ” said El Colorado. “What a fine specimen he is. Come in, boy, let’s have a look at you! ” El Colorado was vast and brown, the mahogany of his skin set off by the whiteness of his teeth and his hair and his suit as he sat on the patio at his house, no.