Chuck Hogan Devils in Exile: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781416558873

Devils in Exile: A Novel

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9781416558873: Devils in Exile: A Novel

From the author Jeffery Deaver calls “smart, speedy, and stylish,” a Boston-based thriller featuring an Iraq war veteran who gets involved with dangerous, big-time drug dealers.

 From the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of THE STRAIN and PRINCE OF THIEVES, the basis for the recent Warner Bros. film THE TOWN

Neal Maven returns to Boston from his tour in Iraq only to discover that the country he vowed to protect has little use for him now. The men and women who remained Stateside are years ahead of him both personally and professionally, which embitters him and pushes him toward his breaking point.

And then he meets Brad Royce. Royce is everything Maven wants to be: a fellow vet, charismatic and confident, principled, wealthy, and with a beautiful woman on his arm. Not just any beautiful woman, but Danielle Vetti—the most stunning girl from Maven’s high school. Literally, the girl of his dreams.

Royce offers Maven a much-needed job, and Maven soon finds himself a part of Royce’s team of “sugar bandits,” a group of fellow veterans who use their military skills to intercept major drug deals, taking the dirty money while destroying the product—a get-rich scheme with a clear moral imperative. Though exceedingly dangerous and certainly illegal, the efforts of these modern-day Robin Hoods provide Maven with the adrenaline charge he’s craved since his decommission. Besides, Maven can’t resist the chance to be in Danielle’s orbit once again.

Suddenly, Maven’s life is better than he ever thought possible: a soldier in a civilian’s world, he is once again able to do something he excels at and rediscovers the camaraderie he’s sorely lacked since his return. He can get into any club, eat at any restaurant, be with any woman he wants—except, of course, his dream girl. It’s almost too good to be true. In fact, it is too good to be true when Maven learns that nothing is as it seems, but he’s in too deep and can see no way out. . . .

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About the Author:

Chuck Hogan is the author of The Standoff, The Killing Moon, and The Town (originally published as Prince of Thieves), for which he received the 2005 Hammett Prize from the International Thriller Writers of America and was made into a major motion picture starring Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm. He lives with his family outside of Boston.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

THE LOT

A COLD SATURDAY NIGHT IN NOVEMBER.

Neal Maven stood on the edge of the parking lot, looking up at the buildings of downtown Boston. He was wondering about the lights left shining in the windows of the top-floor offices—who does that, and why—when a thumping bass line made him turn.

A silver limousine eased around the corner. Its long side windows were mirrored so that the less fortunate could see themselves watching the American dream pass them by. Maven stuffed his hands deep inside the pouch pockets of his blanket-thick hoodie, stamping his boots on the blacktop to keep warm.

Nine months now. Nine months he’d been back. Nine months since demobilization and discharge, like nine months of gestation, waiting to be reborn back into the peacetime world. Nine months of transition and nothing going right.

He had already pissed through most of his duty pay. The things you tell the other guys you’re going to do once you get back home—grow a beard, drink all night, sleep all day—those things he had done. Those goals he had achieved. The things the army recommends doing before discharge, to ease your transition—preparing a résumé, lining up housing, securing employment—those things he had let slide.

A lot of businesses still stuck yellow SUPPORT OUR TROOPS ribbons in their front windows, but when you actually showed up fresh from Iraq, looking for work, scratching your name and address on an application pad, they saw not a battle-tested hero but a potential Travis Bickle. Hiring a guy with more confirmed kills than college credits was a tough sell. Maven could feel civilians’ discomfort around him, their unease. As if they heard a tick, tick, tick going inside his head. Probably the same one he heard.

Barroom conversations took on subtext.

“Let me buy you a drink, soldier” meant If you wig out and decide to start shooting up the room, spare me, I’m one of the good guys.

“You know, I came close to enlisting myself” meant Yeah, September eleventh made me piss my pants, but I somehow pulled myself together and haven’t missed an episode of American Idol since.

“I supported you boys one hundred percent” meant Just because I have a ribbon magnet on my car doesn’t mean you can look at my daughter.

“Great to have you back” meant Now please go away again.

He finally did drop by the VA for some career guidance, and a short-armed woman with a shrub of salt-and-pepper hair and everyday compassion sat down and banged out that magical résumé, omitting any reference to combat experience. What he considered to be his proudest accomplishment in life, aside from not getting maimed or killed in action—namely, passing the six-phase Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, earning his Special Forces tab in the run-up to the Iraq invasion—was shrunken to a bullet point on the “Skill Sets” section of his résumé. “Proficient at team-building and leadership skills.” Not “Mud-hungry, man-killing son of a bitch.” So much of his life since coming back had been about writing off what had happened.

The resulting document was a skimpy little thing that whim pered, “Please hire me.” He had fifty of them printed on twenty-four-pound paper at Kinko’s and seeded another seventy-five around the city via e-mail, to a great and profound silence.

The parking-lot-guard job—6 p.m. to 2 a.m., three nights a week—came via a posting on craigslist. The owner of the parking lot was a builder looking to jab another diamond pin in the cushion of downtown Boston. The property manager who hired Maven, a square-shouldered navy vet of two Vietnam tours, clapped him on the back fraternally and then explained that he would break Maven’s thumbs if he stole so much as a penny.

After a week or two of long hours stamping his feet out in the bitterly cold night, warding street people away from soft-top Benzes and Lexus SUVs, this threat took the form of a challenge. Every shift now, Maven showed up thinking he wouldn’t steal, only to soften after long hours soaking in the lonesome marinade of night. $36.75 FLAT FEE, ENTER AFTER 6 P.M., NO BLOCKING, EASY-IN/EASY-OUT. He kept it to one or two cars a shift, nothing serious. Latecomers always, inebriates pulling in after midnight, addressing Maven as “my man” or “dude,” and never requesting a receipt, never even noticing him lifting the gate by hand. All they cared about was tucking their silver Saab in near the downtown action, wanting nothing to disrupt the momentum of their weekend night.

It was funny money, the $73.50 he skimmed. He wasted it accordingly, opening the gate at quarter to two and walking a few blocks south to Centerfold’s in the old Combat Zone, dropping his dollars on a couple of quick beers and a table dance before lights-up at two. He was in a bad way. Any money he had left over, he would take two blocks over to Chinatown, ordering a pot of “cold tea” along with the club zombies and the Leather District poseurs and the college seniors too cool for Boston’s puritanical 2 a.m. closing time. Maven sat alone at a cloth-covered table, the piped-in Asian music trickling into his beer buzz like sweet rain as he drank the teapot of draft Bud, throwing back pork dumplings like soft, greasy aspirins. Then he overtipped the rest, tightened up his boot laces, and strapped on his shoulder pack for the long run home.

Home was Quincy, 8.2 miles away.

Running was a purge and a meditation. His thick boots clumped over the cracked streets of rough neighborhoods, along dormant Conrail tracks, and under expressway bridges. Past dark playgrounds and suspicious cars idling at corners, traffic lights blinking yellow overhead, people calling out from porches and stoops, “Who’s chasin’ you, man?”

Quincy is home to beautiful ocean-view properties, seven-figure marina condos, and is the original homestead of this country’s first father-son presidents, the Adamses.

Maven’s converted attic apartment was nowhere near any of these. It had sloped ceilings in every room, a stand-up shower with almost zero water pressure, and stood directly under the approach path into Logan.

This was where he lived now. This was who he was.

Sometimes, during his run, he remembered the dancers and the way they eyed themselves in the strip club’s mirrored walls as they worked the stage: so unashamed and even bored by their public nudity, as though they considered themselves just part of the spectacle, and not in fact its focus.

This was Maven’s attitude toward himself and his own life now. He felt as though he were watching a man slowly slipping over the edge of a deep chasm, not at all concerned that this man was him.

SIX NIGHTS BEFORE, HE HAD NEARLY KILLED A MAN.

The rain had been coming down hard that shift, hard enough to wash away the usual symphony of the downtown weekend: no laughter from passing couples; no Emerson students gloating in packs; no snatches of discussion from scarf-wearing theatergoers; no club-hoppers tripping over sidewalk cracks and laughing off their ass.

The gate had a small booth, but with the rain banging on the tin roof like gunshots, it was easier just to stand outside, letting the rain rap his poncho hood and shoulders, blowing down in sheets from the high security lamps like the rippling sails of a storm-battered ship. He imagined himself a rock beneath a waterfall, and the sensation, as such, was not unpleasant; this was the kind of mind game he had taught himself in the Arabian desert.

People think it never rains over there, but it does: rarely and suddenly, as out of place as applause inside a church. Desert rain tastes silty and runs in dirty black tears down your face. Boston rain, on the other hand, thanks to recycled industrial emissions, tastes and smells as sweet as a soft drink.

Since returning to the States, Maven had battled reimmersion issues common among discharged Iraq veterans. A heightened startle reflex; avoidance of crowded places; sudden, overwhelming anxiety attacks. Discarded food containers, dead animals on the roadside, a man walking alone into traffic: in Iraq, the appearance of these things portended death. Any of them had the potential to detonate fatally without notice. His time over there had been one of unremitting suspense, which he had met with unrelenting vigilance, one of many habits he was still having trouble unlearning.

Two things conspired to distract him from his usual psychotic vigilance that night. The insulating rain was one of them. The other was a gleaming black Cadillac Escalade that pulled in around ten.

The Escalade was a big SUV, the driver sitting at about Maven’s eye level. Nothing about him jumped out at Maven: black hair, a no-nonsense face, perfectly shaped shirt collar, jutting chin. The dash was loaded with electronics, more sophisticated than anything in Maven’s entire apartment.

As the driver went poking into the sun visor for cash, a woman leaned forward in the passenger seat. She threw a brief glance Maven’s way—nothing more than a peek around a blind corner—just curious to put a face to the dark figure working in the rain. The liquid crystal display of the navigation screen lit her green and blue like some beau tiful android. Maven glimpsed a flawless neck, a delicately pointed chin, and a tantalizingly thick line of cleavage.

All in an instant. She eased back again—no spark in her eyes, no recognition, nothing.

“Messy night, huh?”

The guy was talking to him, a neatly creased fifty clipped between his fingers. The windshield wipers flicked rain into Maven’s face.

“Yeah,” said Maven, slow to recover, his hands disappearing inside his pants pockets within the poncho, making change.

The guy accepted the damp bills and coins and spil...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Devils in Exileis the story of a struggling Iraq War veteran, Neal Maven, who falls in with a crew of fellow veterans ripping off Boston-area drug dealers for profit. Their success upsets the balance of power in the local drug trade - they take the money while destroying the drugs - putting their lives increasingly at risk. As Maren becomes more involved with the crew, two worrisome things happen: he begins to suspect that the crew s leader is not telling them how and why he is targeting Boston s drug dealers, and he falls in lust with the leader s girl, a tough former model with a drug habit. As the rip-off jobs get more dangerous, the Sugar Bandits are pursued by both a smart federal DEA agent and by a pair of psychopathic Jamaican hit men hired by the drug lords to find out who is stealing their money and drugs. When everything goes bad - and it goes verybad-Maven learns that there was more to the Sugar Bandits than he ever knew, and embarks on a one-man crusade to right the wrongs in which he unwittingly participated. Not everyone will survive his crusade, and Maven himself may or may not live to see who will win the day. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9781416558873

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Devils in Exileis the story of a struggling Iraq War veteran, Neal Maven, who falls in with a crew of fellow veterans ripping off Boston-area drug dealers for profit. Their success upsets the balance of power in the local drug trade - they take the money while destroying the drugs - putting their lives increasingly at risk. As Maren becomes more involved with the crew, two worrisome things happen: he begins to suspect that the crew s leader is not telling them how and why he is targeting Boston s drug dealers, and he falls in lust with the leader s girl, a tough former model with a drug habit. As the rip-off jobs get more dangerous, the Sugar Bandits are pursued by both a smart federal DEA agent and by a pair of psychopathic Jamaican hit men hired by the drug lords to find out who is stealing their money and drugs. When everything goes bad - and it goes verybad-Maven learns that there was more to the Sugar Bandits than he ever knew, and embarks on a one-man crusade to right the wrongs in which he unwittingly participated. Not everyone will survive his crusade, and Maven himself may or may not live to see who will win the day. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9781416558873

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