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4.2 5
by Will Staeger

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With page-turning ferocity, Will Staeger delivers a stylistic blend of riveting action, thrilling suspense, and starkly alluring characters in this classic tale of espionage laced with a twist of modern-day terror . . .

The quasi-retired, Virgin Islands-based CIA operative known only as W. Cooper lives his life free-diving


With page-turning ferocity, Will Staeger delivers a stylistic blend of riveting action, thrilling suspense, and starkly alluring characters in this classic tale of espionage laced with a twist of modern-day terror . . .

The quasi-retired, Virgin Islands-based CIA operative known only as W. Cooper lives his life free-diving and philandering along a quarter-mile of white sand—a necessary slice of paradise for a man seeking to kill the pain of torturous memories. His life of leisure is rudely interrupted, however, when he's tapped by the local police to "dispose" of a bullet-ridden, mysteriously scarred body deposited on the island's shore by a passing hurricane. Sensing the cops are merely looking to duck the labor of a proper homicide investigation, Cooper declines—only to encounter a haunting form of déjà vu that brings with it a strange sense of comradeship with the anonymous victim. Knowing he'd be better off leaving well enough alone, Cooper decides to investigate where no one else seems willing.

At CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, junior analyst Julie Laramie discovers, almost by accident, evidence of a massive, clandestine military buildup in China—and elsewhere. Alerting her superiors in her typically alarmist fashion, she's reprimanded for violating Agency protocol and told to leave policymaking to the elected officials. Like Cooper, Laramie knows she should walk away, but her gut drives her on a course toward career suicide—and a bounty of evidence only she seems to see. What she sees? A labyrinthine, untraceable terrorist plot designed to cripple the United States.

Led down parallel paths littered with a uniquely dark and compelling cast of enemies—a zombifying Haitian witch doctor, a slave-trading albino serial killer, and a Creatine-boosted behemoth bodybuilder to name just three—Cooper and Laramie find themselves drawn together from opposite ends of a terrifying conspiracy. With the clock ticking down, the two realize they may be all that stands in the way of the annihilation of the existing world order.

A dynamic and complex story featuring powerful writing, magnetic characters, and a terrifyingly realistic premise, Will Staeger's debut marks him as the newest star on the thriller horizon. So beware . . . like the Caribbean cocktail with which this book shares its name, Painkiller is deceptively tasty—and exceedingly dangerous.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Painkiller isn't just the name of a popular rum-based drink; it's also the title of Will Staeger's sensational debut thriller featuring a quasi-retired CIA operative living as a glorified beach bum in the British Virgin Islands, an inexperienced but tenacious Agency intelligence analyst investigating Northeast Asia, zombie slaves, the Bermuda Triangle -- and the potential beginnings of WWIII.

W. Cooper, as he calls himself, is living an idyllic life at Conch Bay in the British Virgin Islands. His daily routine consists of free diving, drinking, fishing, boating, and more drinking. The enigmatic spy is a walking mystery: "…his skin looked like the peeling hull of an old boat. Scar tissue creased his cheekbones, his nose had been flattened by a couple dozen breaks, and he had the eyes of somebody who'd checked out a few decades back." When Cooper gets roped into helping the local police dispose of a bizarrely disfigured corpse, he begins a quest to solve the strange murder and soon finds himself up against Haitian witch doctors, albino serial killers, and nuclear bomb–wielding Communist dictators! Meanwhile, CIA analyst Julie Laramie stumbles across a massive terrorist plot that includes China, North Korea, and Yemen -- the only problem is that her superiors won't do anything with the information.

Fans of authors like Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Nelson DeMille, John le Carré, and Carl Hiaasen will absolutely love the nonconformist duo of W. Cooper and Julie Laramie. Outrageously original, utterly cool, and so fast-paced it should be illegal, Staeger's Painkiller is a rip-roaring adrenaline fest. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
A TV and film executive, Staeger displays a real knack for creating cinematic scenes in his engaging first thriller. Cooper, a burnt-out former CIA operative living in a cheap bungalow on the British Virgin Island of Tortola, isn't too happy when "Cap'n Roy," the local police chief, dares to call him at 6 a.m. (Indeed, he gets out of bed and smashes the window in his front door with a baseball bat.) A badly burned, broken and tattooed male body has washed up on the beach, and Roy wants Cooper to dispose of it without disturbing the tourists. Given the corpse's unusual wounds, a shady expat coroner in the U.S. Virgin Islands agrees to conduct an autopsy. The tattoo entices Cooper into digging further, and he soon unearths evidence of a huge buildup of weapons in China. At the same time, Julie Laramie, a low-level agent working for the CIA, stumbles across the same Chinese plot, only to have her superiors threaten to ax her if anything leaks. It's only a matter of time-plus a few more highly visual action moments-before Cooper and Laramie have to secretly link up and trust each other to save the world. Agent, Matthew Guma at Inkwell Literary Management. (July 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt


A Novel
By Will Staeger

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Will Staeger
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060765860

Chapter One

He couldn't remember coming here; he didn't know where he was. Jagged leaves, black in the wet night, whipped his cheeks as he ran. Sores bled beneath a torn jersey. A gust of wind knocked him off balance, and he slipped, fell, and rose again. Hurling his diseased body through the jungle, he couldn't find sufficient oxygen to fill his lungs; few of his muscles obeyed the orders from his brain. None of this mattered.

All that mattered was the pain -- and the need to escape it.

Rifle shots cracked, the equivalent of snapping twigs in the roar of the hurricane. Figures emerged from the jungle behind him -- rain-soaked wraiths shouldering heavy firepower. Voices barked, and with sudden brilliance a flare arced into the sky. Its parachute caught and held, bathing the fleeing man in daylight.

He may have registered a thought -- memories of home, of yesterday, of five years ago. Of Simone. In that instant, it might all have come back to him; it might not. In the next, he fell, dropping eighty feet in the darkness. His legs churned on, pumping, until the rocks at the base of the cliff drove them into his pelvis.

Flashlight beams pierced the sky -- rotating, descending, settling on his broken remains. It was only a matter of seconds before he was moving again. Propping his upper body on shattered elbows, he lunged forward, fighting the surf as it pummeled him. He climbed across one boulder, then the next, until, sluglike, he pulled himself onto the wooden planks of a dock. Clawing at the rain, his bloody fingers stretched, reaching for the vision that appeared to him at dock's end. Moored against the farthest piling was a rowboat--an eight-foot dinghy, slapping and banging itself to pieces, restrained only by a fraying rope that wouldn't survive the hour.

A star-shaped muzzle blast burst from the lip of the cliff. Another pulsed beside it, and in seconds the brittle pier was chewed to pieces by a fusillade of armor-piercing shells. He was nearing the end of the dock when one last bullet struck him in the back, and the pain that had propelled him ebbed. His struggle slowed, then ceased.

The hail of gunfire subsided; the airborne flare splashed into the sea. The flashlight beams pulled skyward and vanished. Finally, as the torrent raged around him, the man slumped, incapable of completing his escape.


Excerpted from Painkiller by Will Staeger Copyright © 2005 by Will Staeger. 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.

Meet the Author

Will Staeger has worked for ESPN as an executive producer of original entertainment, and in Hollywood as a feature-film development executive. He lives with his wife and children in Connecticut.

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Painkiller 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Cooper is self-confident, determined, smart, tough, funny and witty. The book is adventurous, intriguing, a good page turner, Will keep writing more about Cooper and Laramie. Good job Will. Congrats.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Staeger weaves the many threads of his story flawlessly . . .he never loses the reader. He provides enough factual basis for events that you say, 'OK, yes, that could happen.' The writing is very visual, well-paced, intriguing. It was hard to put this book down. Outstanding novel . . . first or otherwise. Please, Mr. Staeger, give us more!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the peaceful British Virgin island of Tortola, burned out Agent W. Cooper heads the local field office, consisting of one person himself. Cooper got this gem post where his job is to drink rum cocktails and chase women by blackmailing the agency¿s Deputy Director Peter Gates, who is pleased with the arrangement because this wild card has been removed from the deck without exposing or embarrassing him. Royal Virgin Islands Police Force Captain Roy Gillespie known locally as 'Cap'n Roy' risks a beating by waking up Cooper at 6 a.m. Roy is fortunate as Cooper takes his ire that his beauty sleep aided by rum cocktails was interrupted out on a window. The cop wants Cooper to dispose of a battered burned corpse that washed ashore on the beach. Cooper reluctantly gets involved especially when he sees the odd tattoo on the male body. He begins digging until he uncovers proof that a massive increase in weapons in China has occurred. Fellow CIA Agent, Julie Laramie finds similar evidence, but Gates warns her to cease and desist and remain silent or face more than just a firing for insubordination. She refuses and Gates paints her has a failed malcontent. Cooper and Laramie serendipitously meet to continue the inquiries as they realize something global is at stake. --- PAIN KILLER is a wild espionage thriller starring a retired on the job antihero and the woman who inspires him to get back into the game. The story line is action-packed, but has a tongue in cheek quality to it because of Cooper¿s attitude. Fans of Clive Cussler will want to read Will Stager¿s action-packed tale, but just go easy on Cooper¿s PAINKILLER, Pusser¿s Rum Cocktail. --- Harriet Klausner