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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Hot Springs: A Novel (Earl Swagger) » User review

Excellent prequel to the Bob Lee Swagger Novels

  • Mar 6, 2012
Rating:
+5
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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Obtained from: Bookstore
Payment: Purchased

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March 22, 2012
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About the reviewer
Gregg Eldred ()
Ranked #75
It never ceases to amaze me how many doors have opened up for me since I started reviewing the books I read. Publishers now send me free books to read and review. Authors contact me. Kind folks at Lunch … more
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Wiki

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 Kitchen. A county prosecutor, ambitious for higher office, sees Madden's destruction as the key to his political future, and he thinks Medal of Honor winner Earl Swagger is the right man to break Madden's stranglehold on the corrupt city.

A decent man haunted by his warrior past as well as the memory of his suffering at the hands of an abusive father, Earl yearns for the peace and quiet of domesticity with his wife Junie and the child she carries. But his need for "the hot pounding of the gun, the furious intensity of it all," is even more compelling. Earl's fearlessness in the face of danger is his defense against guilt over having survived both the war and his father's cruelty. Tasked with training a commando cadre to destroy Madden's criminal enterprise, Earl finds a way to channel his violent nature in the service of justice, despite his suspicions about his boss's political agenda, which threatens to compromise his assignment and destroy his team.

A prequel to Stephen Hunter's three well-reviewed suspense thrillers starring Earl's son, former marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger (Point of Impact, Black Light, Dirty White Boys), Hot Springs is bloody, hard-boiled fiction at its best. Hunter's precise descriptions of combat, ...

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