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Hot Springs / Pale Horse Coming / Havana (MP3-CD) (Stephen Hunter)
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Hot SpringsEarl Swagger is tough as hell. But even tough guys have their secrets. Plagued by the memory of his abusive father, apprehensive about his own impending parenthood, Earl is a decorated ex-Marine of absolute integrity—and overwhelming melancholy. Now he’s about to face his biggest, bloodiest challenge yet.
It is the summer of 1946, organized crime’s garish golden age, when American justice seems to have gone to seed for good. Nowhere is this more true than in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the reigning capital of corruption. When the district attorney vows to bring down the mob, Earl is recruited to run the show. As casino raids erupt into nerve-shattering combat amid screaming prostitutes and fleeing johns, the body count mounts—along with the suspense.
Pale Horse ComingIt’s 1951. The Thebes State Penal Farm in Mississippi is up a dark river, surrounded by swamps and impenetrable piney woods. It’s the Old South at its most brutal—a place of violence, racial terror, and even more horrific rumors. Of the few who make the journey, black or white, even fewer return.
But in that year, two men will come to Thebes. The first is Sam Vincent, the former prosecuting attorney of Polk County, Arkansas who, with great misgivings, accepts a job to investigate a disappearance. Before he leaves on this dangerous trip, he confesses his fears to his former investigator Earl Swagger, now a sergeant of the Arkansas State Police. Earl pledges that if Sam is not back by a certain time, he will come looking for him.
What they encounter there is something beyond their wildest imagining of evil. The dying black town is ruled by white deputies on horseback who are more like an occupying army and the only escape is over the wild currents of the dark river that drowns as many people as it liberates. But nothing in town compares to the prison. Run by an aging madman with insane theories of racial purity, it is administered by a brutal sergeant known as Bigboy. The convicts call him The Whip Man—he can take a man’s soul with his nine feet of braided catgut.
Both Sam and Earl will be challenged to the limits of their strength by this place and will struggle not only for their own survival, but with the question: What does a man do when confronted with evil?
HavanaHigh summer in Cuba, 1953, and Havana gleams with possibility. Flush with booming casinos, sex and drugs, Havana is a lucrative paradise for everyone from the Mafia, Domino Sugar, and United Fruit to pimps, ******-makers, and anyone looking to grab a piece of the action—including the Cuban government, which naturally honors the interests of its old ally, Uncle Sam.
Of course, where there's paradise, trouble can't be far behind. Trouble, in this case, makes its entrance in the terrifically charismatic and silver-tongued form of a young revolutionary named Fidel Castro.