Hailey's War: A Novel

Hailey's War: A Novel

by Jodi Compton

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307588074
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 06/15/2010
Series: Hailey Cain Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Jodi Compton, like Hailey Cain, is "Californian in a way a lot of people are Californian; I was born someplace else." Jodi has lived in California since the age of one, excepting a brief stint in Minneapolis. She is the author of two previous crime novels, The 37th Hour and Sympathy Between Humans. She currently lives in Northern California with her Lab mix, Lady Bird.

Read an Excerpt

Nine days earlier    

"Do you ever think about Jonah?"  

"Jesus, is that my Bible? I haven't opened that thing in years. So you're talking about the guy that was swallowed by a whale?"  


"No, I'd have to say I don't think about him. I wouldn't think you would, either. I didn't take you for particularly religious."  

"I'm not. That's my point, though. When you're not raised religious, you think of Jonah as the swallowed-by-a-whale guy, like Noah is the ark guy. But when you actually read the book of Jonah, it's not what you expect."  

"You read the whole book?"  

"It's three pages long."  

Morning in San Francisco. Jack Foreman, tall and thin, in his early forties, with a premature streak of gray in his light brown hair, was across the room, already dressed at quarter to eight, already having cleared away last night's Ketel One bottle and two glasses, showered, dressed, and fixed and consumed breakfast and an espresso. He was now scanning the headlines of both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, and at the same time keeping an eye on CNN with the sound off. I was still in his bed, naked, with my hair half raveled in the braids I forgot to take out last night, reading his Bible for no particular reason other than that it had caught my eye while Jack was still in the shower.  

"The thing that's strange about the story is, Jonah doesn't seem to be scared of anything, even when he should be."  

"No. The story goes that God tells Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to preach, and Jonah doesn't want to, so he gets on a ship for Spain. God sends a violent storm, and the ship's crew is scared. But when they go down to the hold to find Jonah, he's sleeping."  


"Sleeping. Through a storm that has veteran sailors scared. So they wake him up and tell him, 'We're pretty sure we haven't done anything to anger our gods, might you have done something to anger yours?' And Jonah suggests that if they think this is the case, maybe they should throw him overboard."  


"They're way out at sea. Jonah's effectively asking to be drowned. The crew says no at first, but later they decide he's right, and they throw him over, and then comes the whale part that everyone knows about. That's what it takes for him to finally decidethat maybe he's in trouble. He prays to God--it's kind of a pretty poem, by the way--and God intervenes, so the whale spits him up onto dry land. And then he does go to Nineveh, and everyone in Nineveh really gets with the program, from the king on down. Theyrepent in a big way. And Jonah isn't happy about it. He gets mad. He goes out in the desert and argues with God about destroying Nineveh."  

"He wants Nineveh destroyed?"  

"Yeah, but the bigger point is, he's arguing with the God of the Old Testament, the all-powerful white-beard guy who used to strike people dead. Doesn't that seem a little insane? Shouldn't Jonah be a little more afraid?"  

"You think Jonah was suicidal."  

"No. I mean, not necessarily."  

"Then what's your theory? You sound like you've been putting a lot of thought into this. You must have one."  

"No, sorry. I'm just a bike messenger. I don't get paid enough to theorize."  

"Hailey..." he said, his tone a change of subject in itself.  

"I know. You're ready for work. I've got to get up and dressed and out. I'll hurry." I was already sliding his Bible back onto the bookshelf.  

Jack was a newsman for the Associated Press, a Midwestern transplant to California by way of, apparently, everywhere. Photographs on the far wall of his studio, Jack's own amateur work, attested to the width and breadth of his reporting career. Fellowreporters, editors, photographers, and other acquaintances looked out from pictures taken in the world's capitals and war zones, places Jack had been a correspondent.  

He and I had crossed paths several times at the courthouse, where he covered motions and trials and I, a bike courier, dropped off and picked up legal papers. But we didn't get to know each other until the Friday night I'd literally backed into him in a tiny, crowded Asian grocery. When, after a few minutes of conversation, he asked me if I wanted company for dinner, I surprised myself by saying yes. Maybe it had been so long since I'd seen a guy who was neither a metrosexual nor a pierced and dread locked bike messenger that he had been exotic to me.  

He was the first guy I ever slept with who wore boxer shorts. I didn't tell him that, our first night together. Guys have lost erections over less.  

Now, as I was pulling on my long-sleeved thermal shirt and cargo pants, Jack said, "Are you hungry? There's bagels." 

I shook my head. "I'll eat later." It was my day off, and a small plan for the morning was forming.  

I sat on the floor to put on my boots. When I looked up, Jack was watching me.  

He said, "Every time I see you lacing up those boots, I think I'm sleeping with an undercover DEA agent."  

Bates Enforcers, heavy-soled black lace-ups with a side zip, draw a lot of attention.  

"They're comfortable, is all."  

Jack had never seen the gun. It was a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson Airweight, easy to conceal. Just five shots, but the kind of trouble I was likely to get into was the up-close-and-personal kind, and if I couldn't get out of it with five rounds, I wasn'tgetting out of it at all.  

I stood and gathered up my single-strap messenger bag, putting it over my shoulder, when the newspapers on the counter caught my attention.  

"Are you done with this?" I asked, indicating the Los Angeles Times Calendar section, its front page dominated by a profile of a young white hip-hop producer. "Can I have it?"  

"Sure," Jack said.  

I slid the section of the paper into my bag, then walked ahead of Jack into the entryway, where my bicycle--it was my private transportation as well as my livelihood--leaned against the wall.  

We emerged into the cool gray of June in San Francisco, me wheeling the bike and Jack holding the keys to his old Saab. He stopped for a moment, tapping a cigarette out of a pack, his first of the day. While he lit up, I looked downhill, toward the restof the city. Jack's studio was at the edge of Parnassus Heights, and the view was fantastic.  

It's hard to find anyone who doesn't find San Francisco beautiful, and I couldn't argue. I had been in San Francisco nearly a year. I had ridden every inch of its neighborhoods, the storied ones like Chinatown and North Beach, the quiet ones like the Sunsetand Presidio Heights. Late at night, I had watched the lights of great containerships as they ghosted into the port of Oakland, across the water. I had seen this city in the rain, the sun, the fog, the moonlight, on moonless evenings illuminated by its owncity lights. San Francisco seemed to pose for you endlessly, proving it could look beautiful under any conditions. People came from all over the country and paid exorbitant prices to own or rent a tiny part of San Francisco.  

Only a philistine could stand on a hill, look out at San Francisco, and wish she were seeing the overheated sprawl of L.A. instead. But I did.  

Jack had gotten his cigarette going; I could smell the fragrant-acrid smoke from behind me. I turned back to him and was just about to say, I'll call you sometime this week, when he spoke first. "Hailey?"  


"When you say you're going to get something to eat later, you mean later this morning, right? Not late this afternoon?"  

"Yeah," I said, baffled. "Why?"  

"We had a lot to drink last night, but I didn't see you eat anything. You're getting thin."  

"Jack, my job burns, like, eight thousand calories an hour. I couldn't do it if I wasn't eating enough," I pointed out.

He was not appeased. I said, "Something else on your mind?"  

He said, "You treat yourself with a certain amount of disregard, Hailey. I've known you for six months, and how often in that time have you been injured on the job? First those stitches in your eyebrow, then that thing with your wrist--"  

"That was an old break. The bone was weak," I argued. "Look, I'm a bike messenger. I've been the top-earning rider for my service nearly every month since I hired on. I couldn't do that without taking some risks. There's a lot of competition."  

Jack closed his eyes briefly, then said, "You don't want to be the most reckless bike messenger in San Francisco, Hailey. That's like being the town drunk in New Orleans."  

"I didn't know you cared."  

"You ever think about school?"  

"I thought I mentioned that before," I said. "I did a little school back east. It didn't work out."  

"And you can never go back?"  

"What's with you today?" I asked him. "The thing I like most about you is that you're free of all the middle-class rhetoric, and now suddenly you're doing a guidance-counselor thing."  

Jack sighed. "I'm not trying to make you angry."  

"I'm not," I said, relenting.  

"Really?" He threw down the cigarette and stepped on it.  

"Really. I'll call you tomorrow. We'll get together, I'll eat a whole pile of food. You can watch."  

Besides, I hadn't been lying when I said I was planning on having breakfast. Just not right away.    


I didn't own a car, which wasn't supposed to be a problem in San Francisco. It's said to be one of the world's great walking cities--fairly compact, with temperate weather and beautiful neighborhoods. All true, but even so: forty-nine square miles. Inmy first weeks here, I'd chronically underjudged the time it was going to take me to walk places. Now, of course, I had my bike--an old silver Motobecane, very fast, with drop handlebars and paint rubbed off the top tube where someone had probably kept a chainwrapped around it.  

I'd been a messenger for eight months, long enough to develop the cyclist's long, flat ellipse of muscle in my calf--I didn't have that even back east in school, when I'd thought I was in the best shape of my life. Now a short, easy ride brought me tomy destination, the Golden Gate Bridge. Ever since I'd come out to San Francisco, it had become something of a habit of mine to come up here when I didn't have any big plan for my day.    

From the Hardcover edition.

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Hailey's War 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
macygma on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A book not to be missed this year is Hailey's War by Jodi Compton. Hailey's life has gone deeply south as she doesn't graduate from West Point with her class. She goes West in search of her cousin C.J. who has made it big in hip-hop and would love to give her a place to stay. While driving her beater car one afternoon, a toddler runs out in front of her and is killed. Not her fault but the child is the only son of Lucius Marsellus. A music mogul in his own right and not a person to be messin' with. The baby's nanny disappears and so must Hailey - quicklyBeing the independent person she is, with CJ's help, Hailey moves on up the coast to San Francisco where she becomes a bike messenger. Not a safe job, but it pays fair and keeps her in shape. She receives an unexpected call from a high school friend asking for a small favor - would she help one of Serena's friends get home to Mexico to see her ailing grandmother? The pay is great and Hailey takes a few days off to drive Nidia home.And that's when a simple act becomes the larger cross that Hailey must bare. Nidia managed to leave a out a few things when she wanted to travel back home. Like that fact that she is pregnant with the only grandchild of Anton Skouras, devil reincarnated. Anton's son had just died and Nidia had been his caregiver and lover. Anton wants the baby. Badly.This novel was a stay up all nighter! Hailey's time in East L.A. with Serena and her gang was written so well that I could close my eyes and picture the house in its entirety. The West Point issue keeps arising in some odd places but the focus of the story is Hailey and friends against mobsters with nasty pruning shears and large guns. The ending will leave you staring into space for awhile and believe me, it's not what you'd expect. Great job, Ms. Compton!
Soniamarie on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The word adrenaline is what comes to mind as I try to find a way to describe this story. This book is like a sleek, sexy, ten cyclinder sports car going 180 mph in a world full of four door, four cylinder Ford Escorts going 45. Hailey is 24, has failed or dropped out of West Point, and is living paycheck to paycheck as a bike messenger in San Fran. She's got this friend tho, Serena, a hard as nails Latina gangsta chick who one day calls Hailey up asking for a favor. Hailey, bored with her life, agrees to take a young Mexican girl back over the border supposedly to take care of her dying grandmother. Hailey gets more than she bargained for... Somewhere in a Mexican tunnel, Hailey and Nidia, the Mexican girl jumping the fence the other way, get ambushed. Hailey wakes up from a coma in a Mexican hospital and Nidia is missing. Hailey can't let things lie tho. Her training to be an officer takes over and partly due to a guilty conscience for having failed the girl and partly because she has to prove she has what it takes to be an officer after all, Hailey makes it her mission to find Nidia. Enter the world of gang beat ins, stolen cars, threatening phone calls, broken pinky fingers, and sig sauers and you have Hailey's war. Can Hailey find Nidia, keep her safe, survive the world of L.A gang life, and prove herself a good leader? Would make a great, action packed movie about chicas con cojones. I hope this is the first of a series. Be interesting to see what becomes of Hailey. The ending was fabulous.
pharrm on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Gangs; LA and San Fran. Lots of great writing and very intriguing characters. Look for more from her."Twenty-three-year-old Hailey Cain is going nowhere fast. She¿s a bike messenger on the free-for-all streets of San Francisco, trying to outrun memories of a bright future that went bad. Then she gets a call from an old schoolmate, Serena Delgadillo, now a notorious gangbanger in East Los Angeles. Serena asks Hailey to drive a teenage girl to her family¿s home in the mountains of Mexico, and to Hailey, it seems like an easy job. But when Hailey wakes up from a coma in Mexican hospital, she realizes this was anything but an innocent road trip. The `easy job¿ turns into a obsessed search for answers, from L..A.¿s gangland to San Francisco¿s back alleys to the high Sierra. It¿s a quest that will test her strength and her loyalties as Hailey seeks not just answers, but justice. "
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book caught me completely by surprise. I expected it to be more young adult than adult and for some reason I really didn't expect it to be such a great thriller.Hailey's War is complusively readable (as in I dare you to put it down). Smart, engaging, elegantly plotted, this is a thriller with a difference - interesting and competent female characters run the show here - and what a show it is.Ms. Compton has carefully created characters who feel real, but who also have plausible reasons for the skills they have acquired. These are not secretaries who suddenly display a penchant for martial arts and running and gunning. Rather, these are characters who have earned their knowledge in the real world of hard knocks. Compton writes great dialogue and has an eye for differentiations of place. That the book is taut, fast-paced, and exactly the right length proves she's good at editing, too.I'm off to find more books by this talented author. I can't believe I missed her until now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book ! Read it !!!!!!!!!! Then read he second book in the series " Thieves Get Rich.."
suzatm07 More than 1 year ago
I picked this up and couldn't put it down but somewhere between mid point and the end of the book I just became - disappointed - I don't know. I kept reading to find out how on earth she would get out of the situation she had gotten into but still at the end instead of cheering I just felt let down. I'm not sure I would recommend this book except to maybe find out if the next reader felt the same way or got more out of the book than I did. Maybe it's my mood - but I have read other Jodi Compton books and absolutely liked them - this one I have to say I am not sure at all. I had originally thought after this one I would dive right into the next book in the series, but I think I am going to wait. Not a helpful review I'm sure but after reading the last page seconds ago - it's how I feel about it.
Thomas Littleton More than 1 year ago
I enjoied this book very much. The ending I was not expecting but it explained what was going on most of the story. The story flowed and I didn't find any time when I was reading that I was bored or the book was dragging at all. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good action packed book.