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After the Rain

After the Rain

4.5 6
by Chuck Logan

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Headlights off, a panel truck drives by moonlight across an open field, following tracks that have been there for decades ...

Nina Pryce and her husband, Phil Broker, couldn't have more opposite views of the military. Broker's loyalty to the men he served with in Vietnam is matched only by his certainty that they shouldn't have been there in the first place.


Headlights off, a panel truck drives by moonlight across an open field, following tracks that have been there for decades ...

Nina Pryce and her husband, Phil Broker, couldn't have more opposite views of the military. Broker's loyalty to the men he served with in Vietnam is matched only by his certainty that they shouldn't have been there in the first place. Nina, though, is a new breed, a decorated and ambitious vet of the first Gulf War. As Nina proceeds along her chosen career path, Broker -- until his recent "retirement," Minnesota's most effective, unorthodox, and controversial undercover cop -- finds himself struggling in the role of patient military spouse.

The driver is a local entrepreneur taking advantage of a decades-old tradition of smuggling and bootlegging by crossing a border too vast and undermanned to be effectively patrolled ...

Incommunicado for months as part of a top-secret Delta anti-terrorist operation, Nina, with daughter Kit in tow, suddenly emerges in Langdon, North Dakota, a town in the heart of the Cold War Minuteman II missile belt. When Broker arrives to take Kit back home, he realizes that the legacy of those warheads still casts a sinister shadow across the desolate north border country, in the person of a damaged psychopath.

Somewhere in the middle of this empty field he will cross, undetected, from one side of the U.S.-Canada divide to the other. He and his cargo -- illegal cigars, whiskey, machine parts, or something much more terrifying -- thus slip undetected across the longest undefended border in the world.

Broker discovers he's been drawn into an elaborate con within a con, made an unwitting participant in a black-bag anti-terrorist detail. But his anger toward Nina for involving him and putting their daughter at risk quickly fades as a larger, more deadly reality becomes evident. With time running out, husband and wife unite with local North Dakota law enforcement to form a last line of defense against a brilliantly simple act of espionage with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
In telling all this, Logan does many things well. The beauty and desolation of North Dakota are palpable. The characters are sharply drawn and often surprising, the story is suspenseful, the dialogue is crisp. The nuclear plot is ingenious and its final countdown is a nail-biter. And Pryce is surely one of the more formidable women in current fiction.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
An anti-terrorist Delta force, operating in such covert isolation that practically no one knows about them (and those who do will deny it) discovers a plot to detonate a nuclear device smuggled across the Canadian border into North Dakota in Logan's latest high-stakes thriller (after Absolute Zero). Tough-talking, good-looking Gulf War veteran Maj. Nina Pryce sets out to seduce the alleged bomb smuggler while her estranged husband, ex-cop Phil Broker, and their seven-year-old daughter get drawn into the suspenseful special forces sting. Narrator Conway's smooth growl of a voice, reminiscent of a chain-smoker's, successfully captures the raw reality that the team is up against, making him the ideal narrator for this tale. Surprisingly, his hardened tone even works for the story's female characters, though it doesn't hurt that they are all dyed-in-the-wool military types who are willing to rip the enemy's throat out with their teeth-and that they heartily pass around packs of smokes. Conway's intense yet quiet delivery is well-timed, confident and just as precise as Logan's prose. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Forecasts, May 17). (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Of course Phil Broker is going after his estranged wife, Delta Force operator Nina, who is kidnapped by a sociopath while running an unorthodox undercover operation across the Canadian boarder. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ex-soldier, ex-cop Phil Broker (Vapor Trail, 2003, etc.) is hauled out of semiretirement to chase his wife and a McGuffin, both explosive. Major Nina Price, lean, mean, and militant (she was, for instance, the first woman to lead a combat infantry unit under fire) is in a jam, and wouldn't you know it, she needs hubby's help to bail her out. The problem involves some suitcase-sized bombs with, gulp, inherent nuclear elements. There's reason to believe they've been smuggled across the border from Canada into backwater Langton, North Dakota. Nina has the support of trusted colleagues, tested stalwarts of the elite Delta Force, but Broker is, after all, the nonpareil, the man with the perfected eye for "the subtleties in human and geographic landscape." Considering the magnitude of the danger (think 9/11 exponentially), she feels she has no choice but to send out what amounts to an SOS. Why such reluctance? Because this warrior pair, though ever so hot for each other, is not what you'd call the yin and yang of domestic compatibility. Mutually, they irritate and antagonize; both would acknowledge that they had no business marrying. Having married, they shouldn't, in Broker's phrase, "have been allowed to breed." Enter Kit, their seven-year-old-daughter, whom Nina has quite indefensibly shoved onto the chessboard in a gambit calculated to befuddle the bad guys. They're certifiable, those bad guys, but they don't befuddle worth a damn. Body bags fill, Nina gets herself kidnapped, and nuclear disaster approaches on little catastrophic feet. Never fear, though. Nina and Broker, with the help of their friends, rise to the occasion, cope with a contemporary Trojan horse among other booby-traps, andearn the thanks of a grateful nation. Overplotted and underimagined. Logan's sixth but far from his best. Author tour. Agency: ICM
Washington Post
“Hard-edged and gripping ... The nuclear plot is ingenious and its final countdown is a nail-biter.”
Tampa Tribune
“The book simply can’t be put down....Thrillers don’t get any more up to date than this nail-biter.”
Fargo Forum
“A fast-paced action thriller [and] a credible and terrifying story.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A hair-raising yarn that’s complicated, textured and artfully paced, building to a climax that’s almost unthinkable.”
Kansas City Star
“Logan knows how to write international intrigue and suspense.”
St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Chuck Logan at his adventurous best, creating vivid characters and putting them in nail-biting action.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Suspenseful [and] forceful.... Logan is a crafty storyteller.”
Denver Post
“Tantalizing....A frighteningly plausible thriller, one that hits close to home.”
Chicago Tribune
“If you like your thrillers hard [and] tough … then Chuck Logan’s books ... cry out for addition to your bookbag.”
John Sandford
“Great reading — a thriller that looks straight into the eye of the post 9/11 landscape, and never blinks.”

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Read an Excerpt

After the Rain

Chapter One

The young brown guy, the slightly older black guy, and the old white guy had been in the room for thirty minutes and now the sweat was running down their arms. They didn't need to be reminded, but the black guy went and said it anyway.

"Damn, it's hot."

"It ain't so hot," the old white guy said. "Panama was hot. Somalia was hotter. Kuwait was really hot, but that was a dry heat. Now, you take your triple-canopy jungle in Laos ... "

"Don't start," the black guy said.

The temperature in the windowless room had topped ninety degrees at ten A.M., and that was half an hour ago. The room was in a suite of unused offices in an almost vacant strip mall off Highway 12 on the western edge of the Detroit metro area. The building was deserted except for a one-room telemarketing sweatshop at the other end.

The white guy was closer to sixty than to fifty, and his shaggy white-blond hair was shot with gray, and he'd given up trying to hide the bald spot on top. Once he'd been cinched down tight all over. Now his skin and muscles were starting to look like they were a size too large. He shook his head, toed the dirty carpeting, and laughed.

"Figures. No A/C. No nothing. Lookit this place. Some op. Shows how much we rate. Where are we? Inkster? What kind of name is that?"

"Yeah, yeah," said the black guy, who was in his late twenties. Unlike his older partner, he enjoyed looking in the mirror every morning. His skin fit him nice and tight.

They wore Nikes and faded jeans and oversized polo shirts that did not entirely conceal the holstered Berettas, the pagers, the plastic hand ties and cell phones hanging from their belts. They were obviously exhausted. They had not shaved in the last twenty-four hours.

They were not cops.

Nobody would admit who or what they were now. Only what they'd been. The old one was former Delta, former SF. The young one had also been with Special Forces. They'd been through the looking glass and now they carried nothing in their wallets or on their gear that could be traced back to the military. They were simply known by their mission name: Northern Route.

They were volunteers, totally on their own.

An hour ago they snatched a Saudi Arabian businessman off a busy street, stuffed him in a Chevy van, and brought him to this crummy little room from which the air conditioning, the desks, and the chairs had been removed. There was a touch of method in the selection of this room: the sensation of slow suffocation as an interrogation tool. For now the prisoner remained blindfolded. A little later they would take the blindfold off.

So it was just the three of them, and a lot of sweat, and the worn gray carpet, the bare walls, and the gray ceiling tiles crowded overhead with their grids of monotonous dots. And now the walls, carpet, and ceiling started closing in to form a solid block of heat.

The old guy wiped sweat from his forehead and said, "The right way to do this is we should be sitting on a runway. Three hundred thousand Arab types down the road in Dearborn for these wrongos to hide out with. And there's not a single military base in this whole town. That's real smart."

"Hollywood, man -- just cool it. It's only half an hour. They're on the way in from Willow Run to pick him up." On him, the black guy nodded at the third man in the room.

"What would be nice, Bugs, is for Omar here to tell us something."

Bugs shook his head. "Never happen. We can't make deals, that's for the suits. But my guess is this guy's hardcore Qaeda. No way he's gonna talk to anybody. Nah, I think he's gonna sit out the war on the beach in Cuba."

Hollywood nodded. "You hear that, Omar? Camp Delta. Nice eight-by-eight chain-link dog kennel. Got your little rug and your prayer arrow scribed on the concrete floor."

The third man in the room showed lots of brown skin, as he'd been stripped down to his jockey shorts. He sat stiffly on a metal folding chair, his hands bound tightly behind his back in plastic cuffs. In contrast to his scruffy captors he was clean-shaven, his thick dark hair was styled, his fingernails and toenails looked recently manicured. He smelled of cologne rather than sweat and fatigue. In further contrast, a comfortable two inches of belly flab drooped over his waistband. According to the word, he was the renegade nephew of a Saudi prince, one of the world's ultimate rich kids.

But right now he was seriously separated from his Rolex and his Mercedes, and he had a band of duct tape wrapped around his head, covering his eyes. The intell on him suggested he was a dilettante slumming in jihad, that he was soft, that he would crack. So far, the intell was wrong.

Hollywood scrubbed at the stubble on his chin with his knuckles, then he grimaced at the prisoner. He crossed the room in three swift strides, grabbed a handful of the prisoner's sleek black hair, yanked him to his feet, and shouted, "We know you're getting set to move something. So what is it, where is it, and who's doing it?"

The prisoner hunched his shoulders and drew his chin into his chest.

Hollywood's frustration blew on through to outright anger. He seized the prisoner with both hands and roughly spun him in a circle. "So which way's Mecca, Omar? Take a fuckin' guess!"

"Hey, hey, knock it off," Bugs said, moving in quick. Their good cop/bad cop choreography was getting out of hand. It was the heat.

"Yeah, right." Hollywood rammed the staggering prisoner's head against the wall ...

After the Rain. Copyright © by Chuck Logan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Chuck Logan is the author of eight novels, including After the Rain, Vapor Trail, Absolute Zero, and The Big Law. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War who lives in Stillwater, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

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