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"Deutermann's best novel to date."—The Florida Times-Union
"Electrifying...One of the best by one of the best."—Telegraph (Macon, GA)
Rip and Tommy hit the leg traps at the same time. Rip yelled and pitched headfirst into the small stream. Tommy grunted, lurched sideways, and then he, too, slipped over the bank. Lynn, a few steps behind them, stopped in her tracks, her arms windmilling to recover her balance. The grass along the stream was high enough that she couldn't see what was holding the two boys' legs at such an odd angle while they flopped in the shallow water. Whatever it was, it was hurting them a lot. Rip was on his back in the water, groaning and sobbing as he tried to sit up. Tommy was white-faced and tight-lipped, his right leg pointing diagonally up as he struggled against the weight of his backpack.
"My God!" Lynn exclaimed. "What happened?"
"Something's got my leg," Tommy said between clenched teeth. "I think it's a trap of some kind. Help me."
Lynn shrugged out of her backpack, knelt down, and pushed aside the grass. What she found made her swallow hard. "Stop moving," she said. "Let me see how bad this is."
Rip had stopped crying. As Lynn looked over at him, his eyes were rolling backward as he subsided into the brook. Lynn swore and jumped overTommy's trapped leg to get to Rip. She splashed through the stream and snatched Rip's face up out of the water. He began to choke and splutter, then yelled in pain. She heaved and pulled until his back was partially supported by the opposite bank. Then she eased him out of his backpack straps, tugged the sodden bundle off his back, and threw it up on the bank. A vicious metallic-snapping sound cracked in the grass. She froze. Oh Jesus, she thought. She stood up very slowly, then tramped back through the icy water to Tommy, being very careful about where she put her feet.
"I can't feel my foot," Tommy whispered.
Lynn knelt down. "That's probably a good thing, Tommy," she said, trying to keep up a good front. She was supposed to be the strong one, but her throat was dry and her hands were shaking. She picked up a small stick and pushed aside the wet grass to expose the trap. It was two feet wide and gunmetal gray. It consisted of a heavy base that had been chained to some kind of heavy ground screw. The two snapping arms were solid steel bars, and they had Tommy's leg just above the ankle. There was some bleeding on both sides of his leg, and the fabric of his jeans was indented at least an inch into his flesh. The skin below the jaws of the trap was already purple. She swallowed again as he groaned. She tried not to avert her eyes.
"Can you get it off?" he asked. His voice was cracking and beads of sweat stood on his forehead. Lynn reached gingerly for the two solid bars and tried to pry them apart, but it was like pulling on the edge of a building: The only thing that moved was Tommy's leg, and he shouted in pain. Rip was still blubbering behind them, and suddenly Lynn wanted to yell at him, to make him shut up. It had been Rip's idea to sneak onto the abandoned base. She was very scared.
"I can't move it," she said. Just then, there was a thump and rumble of thunder to the west; the afternoon storm clouds that had made them hurry down toward the creek, away from the tall trees, were still coming. Tommy closed his eyes, sighed, and lay back on his pack.
"Let me see if I can find something to pry it open," she said. She stood up and looked around. They were in a small clearing. The streambed ran down an east-west gully that wound between two broad hills covered in dense forest. Across the stream and up the other side of the gully was another stand of trees, through which she thought she could see a smokestack and the top of some kind of building. The sky above the hills behind them was darkening fast, and a flicker of lightning gleamed wickedly at her from within coiling clouds. Tommy tried again to get out of the stream but couldn't manage it. She helped him get his pack all the way off, and then she repositioned his upper body against the opposite bank, the pack under his neck. There was a chunky stick a few feet downstream, which she lifted and then used to beat down all the grass on either side of the creek between the two boys. She found no more traps, although she went no farther than Tommy's backpack. Then the stick broke.
She told them not to move and then retraced her steps up the side of the gully to the edge of the forest, which was about thirty feet back from the creek. Another crack of thunder boomed along the face of the low hills to the west, and the sky seemed to darken again. The forest ahead of her stirred uneasily, as if the trees knew what was coming. She began working a two-inch-thick limb off a pine tree, when she saw a curtain of gray rain sweep down the gully, pursued by another clap of thunder. Her raingear was rolled up on top of her pack, but she kept working the branch, twisting it back and forth, swearing at it under her breath as it became slippery and her hands grew sticky with pine pitch. Finally, she got it off and then ran back to where Tommy was sitting awkwardly on the side of the stream, one hand under him. The pain in his eyes nearly broke her heart. Rip appeared to have fainted again. His chin was down on his chest, but at least he was well out of the water.
She took out her camping knife and whittled frantically on the blunt end of the branch, trying to form a wedge point. The rain came down hard and cold, but at least there was no more lightning. And then a single brilliant blue-white bolt punched out an ear-clenching blast that made her scream and drop the knife and the branch. Her ball cap fell off into the stream. The bolt vaporized the top of a nearby tree, showering the gully with flaming embers and enveloping them in a pungent fog of crackling ozone. A bolus of fire flared briefly at the top of the tree, then disappeared in a new roar of rain. She scrambled around, trying to find her knife. Finally, she saw it in the creel retrieved it, and went back to hacking at the end of the branch. She glanced over at Tommy, but his eyes were closed and the rain was running into his partially opened lips. The rain was so heavy, she almost couldn't see Rip.
When she had the base of the limb cleaned off and shaped into a wedge, she knelt back down by Tommy's leg. She cut the fabric back away from his ankle. She was appalled at the swollen purple mess that had been his lower leg. She didn't know how she would be able to wedge the limb into the space between the snapping arms without hurting him. She looked up at Tommy's face. His eyes were open now.
"Just do it," he said, his voice barely audible above the noise of the rain. "Get it off me."
She nodded and pushed the wedge end of the six-foot-long branch between the two steel jaws as close to the hinge joint as she could get. Then she stood up and planted her right foot in the stream, which she noticed was deeper now, coming up to the tops of her boots. She put her left foot on the base plate and then leaned slowly against the branch. Tommy groaned as the trap moved, but the arms did not budge. Not one inch. She relaxed and then tried again, positioning her hands for maximum leverage. She thought she saw the arms move fractionally, but without her hat, the rain was in her eyes, and then the branch snapped cleanly in two just above the trap and she went tumbling into the grass below where Tommy was trapped. She swore aloud and then realized her cheek was touching metal.
She gasped, commanding every muscle in her body to freeze. Taking tiny breaths of air, she tried to see through the individual blades of wet grass.
"What's the matter?" Tommy called through the rain.
"There's another one. Wait a minute."
She finally mustered the courage to push some of the high grass aside. Her head was on the base plate, her cheek actually touching one of the snapping arms. But not the trigger, a flat spoon-shaped piece of metal between the arms, which she could just see. Moving very carefully, she pulled her head away from the trap and then sat up in the grass. She reached for the broken branch, stood up, and then jammed it furiously into the trap, which slammed shut hard enough to break the pine branch into two additional pieces and sting her hand. She swore and hurried back to Tommy, who was trying to pull himself higher up on the bank. The water was rising, really rising, as all the rain upstream began to invade the gully. Tommy's free leg was completely out of sight, and the water was swirling around his hips. Rip was still passed out, but his lower body was quickly disappearing from sight. She looked at Tommy and found him staring at her face. The rain kept coming, plastering her short hair to her skull. He knew.
"Tommy, what do I do? I can't open that damn thing."
"See if you can move the chain."
She examined the chain, whose links were at least a quarter-inch thick. The chain was about a foot long. The links on both the base plate and the ground screw were solid, welded in place. She jammed the broken end of the pine branch into the screw eye and tried to turn it, but the chain immediately tightened against Tommy's leg and he groaned. A lightning stroke threw the trees on the far side of the gully into stark relief. She saw the building again.
"There's a building beyond those trees," she said. "I'm going to go see if I can get help."
"Rip said this place has been shut down for twenty years," Tommy said. "There isn't going to be anyone there."
"There might be a metal bar or something," she said, looking upstream. There was an ominous noise coming from the far western end of the ravine, a sound of something substantial, moving. "Tommy, we don't have much time."
"Okay, go. Go! Jesus Christ, this hurts."
She checked Rip one more time, but he was still fading in and out. The water was swirling around his waist now. She started to step out of the streambed, then wondered if there were more traps on the opposite bank. She grabbed a stick and beat the grass in front of her, but nothing happened. She reached the far side of the gully and glanced back through the driving rain. The creek, which had originally been maybe two feet across, was now almost ten feet wide and becoming a menacing, foaming coil of muddy brown water. Tommy was clutching at a tuft of grass to stay upright. Rip was leaning like a drunk against the bank, his left arm undulating in the current. The rumbling sound that came from behind the trees upstream was more pronounced. She peered through the trees ahead but could no longer see the building. She couldn't bring herself to leave the boys, so she started screaming for help, knowing it was probably hopeless. There wouldn't be anyone there. The boys were going to drown. She yelled again and again, then gave up and climbed back down to Tommy, being careful to stay in her own tracks.
The water was up to his lower chest now, and he had managed to pull his free leg underneath him so he could kneel and get his face higher. She waded out to him, feeling the force of the current. The stream had spread out in the gully to fifteen feet, submerging the traps and all the grass.
"Something's coming," Tommy said, looking upstream. The rain began to let up, and Lynn felt a surge of hope. But the noise from upstream was definitely still there. Then she saw lights in the trees across the gully.
"Oh my God! Look!" she said to Tommy, and then she stood up. "Over here! Help! Hurry, they're trapped in the water!"
Two dark figures were coming through the trees from the direction of the building, their flashlights bobbing in the gloom. The rain was definitely letting up, but the water was still rising. She called again, waving her arms, wondering if she should get out her own flashlight. Then the larger of the two men apparently saw her. He was tall and had a black beard. He put his arm out in a signal for the other man to halt behind him, which he did.
"Over here," she yelled again. Why were they stopping? The rumbling noise from upstream was gaining strength; she imagined she could feel the ground trembling under the water. There was a sound like the rattle of individual boulders and rocks audible above the water noise. She yelled and waved her arms again. The tall, black-bearded man stepped down to the edge of the flooding gully. He was wearing a long rain slicker that came all the way to his boots. His bearded face was partially covered by a large black hat. He looked at her and then upstream. The rain began to intensify.
"Tommy's trapped," she called out. "So's Rip. Please, can you help me get them out?"
The tall man was about fifteen feet from her now, and the water rose up to the hem of his slicker. Tommy coughed and then groaned in pain as the current shifted him sideways. The water covered his shirt pockets, and he was shivering uncontrollably. Behind him, Rip, wild-eyed and wide-awake now, sputtered something as the water came up to his neck. She still could not see the big man's face under his large mountain man-style hat.
He came forward again, steadying himself against the current. When he reached her, he put out a hand and motioned for her to take it. She was trying to decide what to do when a roaring noise erupted upstream. As she turned to look, a five-foot-high wall of brown water and debris came sweeping around the bend.
She screamed at the sight of it, knowing what was about to happen. Then he had her by the forearm and was pulling her back toward the tree line. She screamed again, something about Tommy, but the grip on her arm was like a vise and she was literally being dragged by her heels through the water and up the slope. He pulled her the last few feet out of the water as the flash flood roared by, filling the air with the smell of mud and the sound of cracking rocks. She put up a hand to see through the rain, to find Tommy and Rip, but they had disappeared. The surge front was followed by a second, swelling tide, this one as much mud as debris-choked water. It rapidly filled the gully all the way to the tree lines on both sides. There were bushes and small trees sailing by in the rumbling water, but the boys were now five feet down and lost forever. She felt sick.
The big man did not relax his grip. "Take her to the nitro building," he said in a cold, commanding voice. "Full restraint. Then we'll come back for the bodies."
"There'll be a vehicle somewhere," the other man said. She could not tear her eyes away from the brown river sweeping by them, which only a few minutes ago had been a small brook.
"Yes, we'll need to find that, too. And their backpacks. Take her, now."
Take her? Lynn thought. Take me where? Who are these men? She started to ask them what was going on, when the tall man pulled her arms behind her and held them.
"Hey!" she yelled, but then a second set of hands pulled a wet length of fabric across her eyes. Then some kind of gag was taped across her mouth. She tried to struggle, but the man behind her lifted her pinned elbows, causing a lancing pain in her upper back. She gave a muffled yell of pain and stopped fighting.
"Be still," the tall man ordered. She could feel him bending close. His body gave off a scent of wet canvas and leather and something else, some kind of chemical smell. "You should not have come here," he said, his voice ominous above the rumble of the flooded stream. "You should never have come here."
Special Agent Janet Carter checked herself out in the ladies' room mirror before going back to her office. She was still smarting over a remark she had overheard that morning down in the deli next to the Roanoke federal building. A new agent, fresh in from the Academy, had asked another agent about her while standing in the coffee line, unaware that Janet was sitting on the other side of the register, just out of sight. She was the only female agent in the Roanoke office, so when the new guy started talking about the cute little redhead in the Violent Crimes Squad, she had naturally paid attention. Then the other guy answering: "Don't let that little-girl face fool you; she's thirty-something, going on forty, has eight years in the Bureau, and she doesn't date other agents. You figure it out."
Figure out what? she thought. Was he saying I'm a lesbian because I won't date other agents? Is that what they think? Or that I'm too old for the newbie? She examined her "little-girl face." Red hair, bright green eyes, okay, a couple of wrinkles here and there, but nothing substantial. Firm chin, healthy skin. So she looked younger than her thirty-seven years—and what was wrong with that? She worked out three, four times a week and was in better shape generally than some of her male coworkers, if the annual physical-fitness test proved anything. There was nothing wrong with the old bod, either. Which was why the newbie had been asking, right? So relax. They're just guys flapping their jaws. In general, she liked the Roanoke crew, and they liked her.
She sighed and went back to her office. There were four cubicles in their office. One, belonging to Larry Talbot, the squad's supervisor, was slightly larger than the others. The other three were Bureau-issue identical. Each contained a computer workstation, a single chair, and some file cabinets over and under the computer table. It was a four-person squad, with one semipermanent, budget-cut vacancy. The other worker bee in the squad was Billy Smith, who was generally conceded to be RIP, as in retired in place. The RIP designation was a little unfair to Billy, who had a serious blood-pressure problem, for which he would take a pill upon arrival in the office. It would promptly put him to sleep at his desk for an hour or so, and then he would wake up and do paperwork throughout the rest of the morning, until lunch, at which time he would take his next pill and slip back under again. He'd come down from some obscure Washington assignment three years ago and supposedly had two years to go until he was eligible for retirement. Larry Talbot had worked a deal: Billy would do the bulk of the squad's routine paperwork, while Larry and Janet would do the legwork. Everyone figured the Bureau was simply looking the other way until Billy could take his retirement and go away. His repertoire of dark two-liner jokes had become notorious in the office, especially when he could catch someone off guard, as he had Janet when he asked her what it meant that the post office flag was at half-mast: They were hiring. Between those little bombs and handling all the squad's paperwork, Billy had found a home.
She sat down at her desk, checked E-mail, and grunted. Larry Talbot had left her a message: Today was the day they went out to tell Mr. Kreiss that they were sending the missing college kids' case up to Washington. She was supposed to meet Talbot in the parking garage at nine o'clock. She looked at her watch. She barely had time to finish her coffee. She thought about that guy's remark. Figure it out, huh? As she remembered, the guy talking to the newbie was a married man. She'd go figure him out all right. Maybe drop a dime, speculate to his wife about the guy's sudden interest in redheads. Make his home life a little more interesting. But then she just laughed. Not her style.
Excerpted from Hunting Season by Peter T. Deutermann Copyright © 2002 by Peter T. Deutermann. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 26, 2013
Posted May 16, 2009
Ace FBI "Sweeper" Edwin Kreiss has retired in disgrace, having uncovered evidence against the wishes of his government. Novice Special Agent Janet Carter, with the same "weakness" for insisting on telling the truth, is assigned to the investigation when Kreiss's daughter disappears on a camping trip. Kreiss has agreed to abstain from anything remotely connected to police work, but when the local Bureau rolls the case over to Missing Persons, he decides he'll have to take matters into his own hands. And all hell breaks loose. With bomb cells, a derelict arsenal, mountain men, Christian militia, and treacherous political infighting, Carter is hard pressed to identify the "enemy" and Kreiss doesn't care who he has to take out in order to recover his daughter. The hunters become the hunted in this no holds barred techno-thriller, filled with secret weapons, double dealing, and non-stop, ever perilous action.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2002
very good story with deep feelings. P.D. is a great storyteller. Enjoyed it very much. Do not like to write a high school or college levelled book report to tell the details and spoil other peoples' fun. Enjoy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2001
I have had the pleasure of reading four P. T. Deutermann novels to date. Mr. Deutermann story telling seems to improve with each book he writes. I was first introduced to author Deutermann when I read Sweepers, then I read Scorpion in the Sea, and finally Zero Option. I write in the military genre myself, primarily Navy, and noticed that while Mr. Deutermann has gotten away from writing about his roots, the Navy, that he is still not opposed to attacking our federal government, bless their hearts. They are such an easy target these days, don¿t you think? In Hunting Season, Deutermann returns to using a woman, Janet Carter, for one of his primary protagonists. Remember Karen from Sweepers? Janet, a rookie Fed, reminded me of Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. And, like Sweepers, he has introduced to us yet another sweeper. This time he writes about a good sweeper. How could there be such a thing as a good sweeper I thought? The psychological profile of the beast spells psychopath. Hunting Season is a thriller in every sense of the word; its plot is both quick in pace and quick in action. And with enough twists and turns to keep any thrill seeking reader happy. P. T. Deutermann has a winner here so go hunting for and find Hunting Season.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2001
Sometimes angry, sometimes anguished, suspicious and stealthy, the voice of Dick Hill reveals all of these feelings as he renders this absorbing story of a father's search for his missing daughter. Three college students are hiking around an abandoned military complex when presto - they disappear. The FBI soon chalks it up to a youthful runaway. However, one father knows better, and he's not your typical parent-next-door. Edwin Kriess is a former member of a special CIA group that was trained to find and capture. He's determined to trace his daughter's abductors, and sets about doing so. The FBI doesn't look kindly upon his investigations - he may have too much information, and what will he discover? Thus, the tracker becomes the tracked when the FBI dispatches someone to ferret out the truth from Kniess. It's a trigger sharp, twisting yarn, and Dick Hill weaves it beautifully.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2001
I promise you if you read this book, you will say this is the book of the year. P T Deutermann has put himself at the top of the list.Its been years since i've read a book this good.Total suspence from page one till the end. I could not even breath at times. i'm not sure i can now. Buy it,it will blow you away, its writing at its best.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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