HAVANA by Stephen Hunter - SIGNED FIRST EDITION BOOK
See all titles by Stephen Hunter.Havana, the sultry spring of 1953: gambling is expensive, sex is cheap, and death is free.
A half-hour by air from Miami, it's the world's hottest -- and most
dangerous -- city. From the plush mobster casinos in Centro to the
backstreet brothels on Zanja Street, you can get anything you want, for a
price. The city is the linchpin of many empires: the Mafia's, the
CIA's, numerous American corporations', El Presidente's, and even the
vice lords' of Old Havana. It must be protected at all costs.
But now there's a threat. A young lawyer, a kid named Castro, is giving
speeches. He speaks of reform, of change, of self-determination. He
speaks of...of revolution even.
This danger must be dealt with.
So, into the steamy, sunny climate of corruption come two men, both
unafraid, both skilled, both tough as ball bearings. They would be
friends in a sane world, for they are so similar in their capabilities
and experiences. But now they have to be enemies, because the Cold War
is at its apogee: one is American, the other Russian.
American is named Earl Swagger. A Medal of Honor winner on Iwo Jima, a
toughened gunman from adventures in Hot Springs and the swamps of
Mississippi, Earl has been conned by two young Old Boys of the CIA to
become Our Gun in Havana.
The Russian, Speshnev, also a veteran
of tough battles (from Spain in '36 to Berlin in '45, with a few stays
in the gulag just for seasoning), has a similar assignment: he too is
sent by strategic gamesters to pay attention to that same young orator.
But his job is protection, not elimination.
assignment will be easy. For, like an orchid hot house, Havana's climate
grows spectacular specimens: the wise old mobster king Meyer Lansky,
who runs the casinos for his nervous New York sponsors the syndicate
hitman Frankie Carbine, Frankie Horsekiller of the famed Times Square
massacre the secret police officer called Ojos Bellos -- Beautiful Eyes
-- for his penchant to interrogate at scalpel point the beautiful
Filipina Jean-Marie Augustine, who knows so much and even those
crew-cut, cheery young CIA fellows on the embassy's Third Floor, behind
whose baby-blues and tender faces lurk all manner of deviousness. And
everybody wants something.
In Havana, Stephen Hunter has
produced a truly epic adventure story, shot-through with violence,
eroticism, and the pressures of big money and big politics, set in a
legendary time and place. His hero, Earl Swagger, fights his enemies,
his superiors, and his own temptations and, in the end, has to decide
what is worth killing for -- and what is worth dying for. He knows only
one thing for certain: that he's a pawn in somebody else's game. But a
pawn with a Colt Super .38 in his shoulder holster and the skill and
will to use it fast and well is a formidable man, indeed.