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Hot Springs: A Novel (Earl Swagger)

1 rating: 5.0
A book

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 … see full wiki

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1 review about Hot Springs: A Novel (Earl Swagger)

Excellent prequel to the Bob Lee Swagger Novels

  • Mar 6, 2012
His wife, June, is there, watching President Truman present him with the Medal of Honor. He earned the medal fighting on Iwo Jima, one of several islands he led Marines into battle against the Japanese. The presentation concludes, he heads to the washroom. There, he unholsters his sidearm, wonders why he is here, in Washington receiving the Medal of Honor, when the real hero's are still on the beaches and in the jungles of the Pacific, dead. He puts the gun to his temple. "Earl," comes the voice of June, "we have to leave, the car is here." He decocks the automatic, holsters it, adjusts his tunic, and walks out.

Walks out, towards what? What is an honored Marine hero, which is what Earl Swagger has become, to do? He is, after all, the son of much feared, respected, and abusive lawman. He is a warrior, comfortable around weapons, used to commanding men on the battlefield. What civilian job could use his particular talents? He considers law enforcement, like the Arkansas State Troopers, however there are no immediate openings. Plus, he has his wife and unborn child to consider. What happens is that he is hired to train a hand picked group of young, single policemen from around the country to rid Hot Springs, Arkansas of gambling, prostitution, and drugs. Hot Springs is run by Owney Maddux, a man who fancies himself as a well bred Englishman but is, in reality, the product of the hard streets of New York. In addition to bringing law and order to Hot Springs, Earl also must contend with the changing priorities of a very political agenda, the stress of a pregnant wife, problems within the team, and an adversary that will protect his investments at any cost.

Hot Springs, by Stephen Hunter, is a prequel to his very popular, and successful, Bob Lee Swagger novels. This is the novel that introduces the reader to Earl Swagger, Bob Lee's father. Hunter brings quite a bit to this novel, while not losing a thing in the pace or plot. He is able to weave racism, issues with returning war veterans, and issues, and duty. No less important, Hot Springs deals with redemption. Hunter keeps the story moving, suspenseful, and with several wonderful twists. This novel is, quite simply, one of the best in Hunter's impressive catalog. If you have read one, most, or all, of his Bob Lee Swagger novels, you must read this, it provides the foundation to the Bob Lee character while introducing his father, an excellent character who is more than up to the task that has been presented. And it answers some questions about Bob Lee's past, his grandfather, and, more importantly, his father. Hot Springs is one of the best books Stephen Hunter has written.

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March 22, 2012
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