In the early 1950s, the seemingly innocent errand of an Arkansas lawyer sets in motion events that cause the downfall of the Thebes State Penal Farm (Colored) in Mississippi. When Sam Vincent's inquiries lead to his imprisonment, his friend Earl Swagger frees him, only to become a prisoner himself. Earl, a former Marine and World War II hero, suffers incredible torture and abuse. He eventually escapes, then returns to settle accounts. This historical thriller graphically depicts violence, cruelty, and bigotry. Narrator William Dufris's performance is unusually dramatic; he displays an amazing range of vocal characterization but with the occasional tendency toward shrillness. Although the story is engaging, the listening experience is not entirely enjoyable. Recommended with reservations.-Ray Vignovich, West Des Moines P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The Hunter assembly line cranks out another of his gunzapoppin' thrillers. With a nod to Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes, Hunter has his stalwart ex-Marine and Congressional Medal of Honor winner Earl Swagger (Hot Springs, 2000, etc.) recruit seven legendary gun-hands to join him in one of those dirty jobs somebody has to do. The time is 1951, and the remote, unbelievably savage Thebes Prison Farm lies half-buried in a Mississippi swamp. How Earl managed to become incarcerated in this place of lost souls is a twisting tale rooted in an American samurai's inflexible code. Never betray a friendship: words Earl lives by, and when Sam Vincent fails to return from a certain mysterious mission Earl knows he has no choice but to find him, free him, and restore him to the bosom of his family. Which he does. Breaking Sam out of Thebes, however, proves no better than an even exchange. A sadistic sheriff, a conscienceless warden, and a band of corrupt, black-hearted minions now have Earl in their clutches, a prospect filling them with delight. (Think imbecilic boys pulling wings off flies.) Relentlessly-and, ugh, gratuitously-they torture him within an inch of his life. But Earl being Earl, he survives and eventually escapes. No way, he decides grimly, that a hellhole like Thebes can be left to its own devices and sets about assembling his crack demolition force: seven storied, if grizzled, gunslingers, old-timers, but still as lethal as ever they were. They strike at night, kill in bunches, and when-the smoke having cleared-the geezer brigade lowers Colts, Winchesters, Thompsons, etc., Thebes once again is history. A case of a successful formula overworked. The result? The pacing slackensnoticeably, and the writing, particularly the dialogue, can seem downright slapdash. First printing of 125,000; author tour
The Providence Journal-Bulletin Cements Hunter's status as the best thriller writer going today. Maybe ever.
The Washington Post Book World Classic hard-boiled fiction....Features some of Hunter's best writing.
San Francisco Examiner One of the best storytellers of his generation.