The Deserter

The Deserter

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An “outstanding” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) blistering thriller featuring a brilliant and unorthodox Army investigator, his enigmatic female partner, and their hunt for the Army’s most notorious—and dangerous—deserter from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille.

When Captain Kyle Mercer of the Army’s elite Delta Force disappeared from his post in Afghanistan, a video released by his Taliban captors made international headlines. But circumstances were murky: Did Mercer desert before he was captured? Then a second video sent to Mercer’s Army commanders leaves no doubt: the trained assassin and keeper of classified Army intelligence has willfully disappeared.

When Mercer is spotted a year later in Caracas, Venezuela, by an old Army buddy, top military brass task Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor of the Criminal Investigation Division to fly to Venezuela and bring Mercer back to America—preferably alive. Brodie knows this is a difficult mission, made more difficult by his new partner’s inexperience, by their undeniable chemistry, and by Brodie’s suspicion that Maggie Taylor is reporting to the CIA.

With ripped-from-the-headlines appeal, an exotic and dangerous locale, and the hairpin twists and inimitable humor that are signature DeMille, The Deserter is the first in a timely and thrilling new series from an unbeatable team of True Masters: the #1 New York Times bestseller Nelson DeMille and his son, award-winning screenwriter Alex DeMille.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781508268833
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 10/22/2019
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 51,019
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Nelson DeMille is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty novels, six of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. His novels include The Deserter, (written with Alex DeMille), The Cuban Affair, Radiant Angel, Plum Island, The Charm School, The Gold Coast, and The General’s Daughter, which was made into a major motion picture, starring John Travolta and Madeleine Stowe. He has written short stories, book reviews, and articles for magazines and newspapers. Nelson DeMille is a combat-decorated U.S. Army veteran, a member of Mensa, Poets & Writers, and the Authors Guild, and a member and past president of the Mystery Writers of America. He is also a member of the International Thriller Writers, who honored him as 2015 ThrillerMaster of the Year. He lives on Long Island with his family.

Alex DeMille is a writer, director, and film editor. He grew up on Long Island and received a BA from Yale University and an MFA in film directing from UCLA. He has won multiple awards and fellowships for his screenplays and films, including The Absence, which was named Best Film at Comic-Con in 2012. He has edited numerous commercials, shorts, and independent feature films, among them My Nephew Emmett, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 2018. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter. The Deserter is his debut novel.


Long Island, New York

Date of Birth:

August 22, 1943

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A. in political science, Hofstra University, 1974

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Kyle Mercer walked across the bare room. He had been on his feet for days, hiking across the tribal frontier, into the outskirts of this ancient city, down the canted streets of the old quarter, and into this empty apartment where the walls were covered with peeling paint and splotches of black mold.

A plastic tarp flapped against the third-story window, moved by the warm winds rolling down from the valley. The tarp flashed a sliver of hot sunlight; then the room was dark again. Outside he heard the bustle of the street market, the rapid-fire Pashto tongue that had become familiar to him over the years. But it was different here. Here there were more people, more tongues, the staccato voices overlapping and bouncing off the close mud-brick walls of the old city.

He wanted to walk now, down in the bazaar, past the piles of fruit and nuts and spices. To touch and taste and smell. He wanted to find a woman to fuck.

But instead he was here, in the bare room, in the dark. Here, he had work to do. Here, there was no one to fuck. Just someone to hurt.

The guy was still passed out, slumped in the wooden chair, hands tied behind him. His face was battered. He drooled a line of blood.

Mercer walked over to the man and slapped him across the face. The eyes fluttered open. The mouth moved, but no sound.

Mercer eyed the bloody pliers on the floor. He himself had once been threatened with them, but that felt like a long time ago. He had taken the pliers, and now they were his. But he did not use them to threaten. That wasn’t his way. He just acted. You pull out one fingernail and the guy understands that it could happen again, nine more times, and he knows exactly how it’s going to feel.

And that’s just what he’d done, all ten of them, because this guy was a tough son of a bitch. And that was fine. That was expected. The tougher the nut, the sweeter the meat.

Mercer swung his foot into the guy’s shin. The man yelped in pain. It wasn’t too loud, because he was spent. Probably no one heard. Probably no one cared.

Mercer leaned in. The man’s left eye was swollen shut, so he looked into the right eye, a sliver of hazel surrounded by swollen purple flesh. “Where is he?”

The man’s lips trembled. His teeth—he still had all his teeth; he should consider himself lucky—slipped over his chapped lower lip. “F-f-ffff...” His lips went slack.

“France? Fiji? Fresno? Where?”

“F-f-ffffu... fuck you...”

Mercer buried his fist in the man’s face and split his nose open. Blood gushed out as the chair toppled backward and crashed to the floor, crushing the man’s tied hands beneath the weight of his body. He moaned as the blood streamed from his face and pooled around his head on the concrete floor.

Mercer walked to the far end of the room and sat in a dark corner. He closed his eyes. He was there again. It was so easy to be back there, in that dark, fetid room, chained down like an animal. He didn’t care about the beatings, or the taunts. He could handle the captivity, the disorientation and uncertainty, losing track of time. He was trained for that.

The worst thing was watching his body wither away from captivity and malnutrition. His most reliable and powerful tool, becoming this limp and desiccated thing. He touched his left arm beneath the white tunic he was wearing. Already the muscle tone was coming back. It had never fully gone. He had just let them think it had; that his will was spent, that his body had become an impotent object, drained of its lethal venom. They were fooled, and it was the last mistake they ever made.

Mercer stood up, walked over to his captive, and looked down at him. Not long ago he’d been the one down on the floor, looking up. The one who didn’t get to decide what happened next.

He hadn’t wanted to play this card. He’d thought the pain would be enough. He’d thought it would be the right thing, given the game they were all playing. But he had to go the next step.

He crouched next to the man. The blood had stopped gushing from his nose. He was taking rapid, shallow breaths. “I’ve seen your house,” said Mercer in a low, soft tone. “Near the American Consulate. Nice two-story place, white stone. Tree out front, looked like a eucalyptus. Your wife has short brown hair, a little plain looking but she keeps herself in shape, tight ass. Your son is how old? Five? Six? Nice looking boy.”

The man glared at him through his one swollen eye.

“Give me what I want, and nothing will happen to them. Withhold from me, and something will. You have my word on that. This is your last opportunity. Tell me where he is.”

The man stared up at him, as though thinking. But not for long. He was going to protect his family. Any decent guy would. The man’s lips parted; he was trying to speak. His voice was low and raspy.

Mercer crouched lower so he could hear. “Tell me.”

The man told him. He spoke in little more than a whisper, but Mercer heard it. And once he heard it, he understood immediately. Of course that’s where the son of a bitch was. Just another turn of the wheel.

He pulled a combat knife from his belt and drew it across the man’s throat. Blood spurted from his jugular.

Mercer stood, wiped the blood from the blade on the dying man’s pants. He looked at the man’s shoes. Leather loafers. He hadn’t noticed them before. They were nice, better than the sandals he’d taken off the last guy he killed. He took them off the man’s feet and put them on.

The blood coming out of the man’s jugular slowed to a trickle, his chest stopped moving. He was dead.

Through the tarp, Mercer could hear the muezzin intone the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. The incantation was low and solemn, almost mournful. All across the city, people would now pause their lives to answer the call, to bow their bodies in a communal act of submission.

Kyle Mercer had once had something like that: common rituals, brotherhood. It had been the Army, and in a broader sense his country. Now all he had was a target. And a destination.

Customer Reviews

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The Deserter 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Ratbruce 1 hours ago
I loved this book... fast paced, military/political thriller with great characters. I particularly liked the humorous banter between the two main characters. Highly recommended.
Reader4102 1 days ago
Nelson DeMille has been writing thrillers for many years – many of them best sellers – which are well written. This book is no different, although the pacing is choppy in places and the authors do get bogged down in their descriptions. When an Army officer, a member of the Delta Force, walked away from his post on night in Afghanistan, it took a while to understand he was not coming back. Then a video was released showing the deserter had been captured by the Taliban. When he escaped the Taliban, the Army knew it would take some time to find him, and they did – in Venezuela. The Pentagon sent two Army investigators, Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor of the CID, to find him and bring him back to the US. Brodie has two problems – finding a trained assassin who doesn’t want to be found and his inexperienced partner. While the book is well written and Scott Brodie well drawn, it was hard to believe that on such a time-sensitive mission, the Pentagon would send Brodie a seasoned veteran on a do-not-fail mission with such an inexperienced new partner who may be more than she says she is and one who may be answering to two masters – the Army and the CIA. While this may not be one of those books that keeps everyone up into the wee hours reading it, it is a book you’ll return to because it’s interesting, the events are current, and the characters mostly appealing. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for an eARC.
Tink4evr 1 days ago
This is a fantastic and heart pounding read. The Demille brothers have done a wonderful job. Two CID investigators are sent on a mission to retrieve an Army deserter. Their mission is filled with many missing pieces that make it a very dangerous one. The story is filled with witty conversations and fast paced action. The characters Maggie and Scott are finding their way slowly through this partnership as they decide how much they can trust each other. Scott is a hard nosed devil may care investigator with an infantry mindset. Maggie is careful and pragmatic and seems to always want to follow the rules. As the story unfolds so does the conspiracy and dangers. This is a well thought out and detailed story. It looks into motives and how even the person with the purest interests can be led down a dark path. In the end redemption is something you have to claim for yourself or die trying.
labmom55 1 days ago
3.5 stars, rounded up Nelson DeMille consistently creates intelligent characters who have trouble following orders and have wicked senses of humor. John Corey remains one of my favorite characters of all time. Scott Brodie is cut from the same cloth. Unlike Corey, who is just a total smart ass, the DeMilles have tried to give Scott more depth in addition to the wisecracks. It doesn’t always work. Scott is a warrant officer in the Army CID. He and his partner have been tasked with finding Kyle Mercer, a Delta Force officer who’s walked away from his post in Afghanistan, been captured by the Taliban, escaped from them and is now on the run. Someone thinks they’ve seen him in Venezuela. It took me longer to get a feel for his partner, Maggie Taylor. She’s a newbie, just one year into the job. She’s also suspected of being a spook. But in the end, her character felt a lot more real than Scott. Of course, the most complicated character of all is Kyle Mercer, the Deserter in question. This time, Nelson is co-author with his son, Alex. The writing was seamless. The authors give us a great sense of time and place. As with The Cuban Affair, the DeMilles place their characters in an unstable country. Venezuela has gone to hell. It’s its own brand of war zone. Unlike some other reviewers, I really appreciated the in depth analysis of the politics and didn’t feel it bogged down the story. That said, I did feel the story itself could use some tightening up. It lagged in spots. And the ending was predictable and unsatisfying. This book is proof of the important job an editor does. My thanks to netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.
linda quick 1 days ago
Loved this book! It has a tightly woven plot and engaging characters, from the rule ignoring, Scott, to the "good girl" Maggie, who has secrets of her own. When, as CID officers, they are assigned to go to Venezuela to find, arrest, and bring back to the US for trial, Kyle Mercer, a Delta Force operative that deserted his post and has not been found. A random siting in a bar brought them to Venezuela, but all the players involved seem to have multiple agendas. The characters are engaging and, especially Scott, funny at times, even as he is bucking authority as he does his job. I found myself engrossed in their story and wanting them to survive it intact. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book. The author is a master at his craft and this book reflects that. Put this one on your must read list.
MKF 1 days ago
Army CID investigators Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor find more than the man they are looking for when they deploy to Venezuela in search of Captain Kyle Mercer. Mercer went missing and was believed- based on video- to have been captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He's a Delta Force officer with special skills (of course) and access to classified defense information. There were and continue to be questions, however, about what exactly happened (this is reminiscent of the Bergdahl case). Brodie and Taylor are somewhat mismatched in their approach to the problem- he's a loose operator and she's more of a rule follower. What they both find is a pot of trouble in a mess of a country. This is a totally plot driven novel with some big implausibilities and a couple of things that nagged at me (umm, the CIA is a part of the USG not an enemy organization to the US Army) but you know what- it's a fast and entertaining read (although it does sag in the middle). There are good atmospherics from the Venezuelan setting (what a nightmare). Fans of DeMille know what to expect and I suspect they will be satisfied. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. This would make a good movie.
Loy3 17 hours ago
The Deserter by Nelson Demille and his son Alex is a fast action book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Scott Brodie is a seasoned army CID investigator with a new partner Maggie Taylor. Kyle Mercer is a deserter who is spotted in Venezuela. They are sent down to bring him back. The book starts out with the orders from the top brass to go down and apprehend Captain Mercer. It is a difficult mission and Brodie knows it. This book reminded me of Mr. Demille’s earlier works which were 5 stars. This one was just as good. The writing was fresh and funny. There were several fights that were over the top but very well written. I was happy to read this advanced copy from Net Galley for an honest review
Anonymous 21 hours ago
Captain Kyle Mercer was a member of the army’s Delta Force when he disappeared from his post in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, a video is posted by the Taliban showing an obviously tortured Mercer. And then, 2 years later, a gruesome video shows Mercer committing brutalities upon his captors. Why did Mercer leave his post in the first place, and, another year later, why is he in Caracas, Venezuela? Senior military officers task Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor of the Criminal Investigation Division with finding Mercer and bringing him back to the United States. But the search proves to be much more complicated than just finding and apprehending the “deserter.” The locale for this story is unique (how many thrillers are set in Venezuela?) and timely (given the political and economic disaster in Venezuela), and the DeMille’s added plenty of humor to this fast moving story. This is in all likelihood the start of a series featured Brodie and Taylor, whose chemistry is evident. I haven't read a Nelson DeMille book in some time, but I am certainly happy to have had the opportunity to read this. My thanks to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for the ARC of this novel.