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DEVILS IN EXILE by Chuck Hogan

DEVILS IN EXILE

By Chuck Hogan

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4165-5886-6
Publisher: Scribner

From Hogan, co-author of The Strain (2009) with Guillermo Del Toro, comes the story of a down-and-out Iraq war veteran who joins another in a thriving criminal operation.

Boston native Maven has been home for nine months and is living hand-to-mouth. He has a low-paying job as a guard on the graveyard shift at a parking lot, skimming a little off the top. A chance encounter with high-school crush Danielle sends the unstable vet into a recurring loop of far-fetched romantic fantasy. A unexpected lifeline comes in the person of Royce, a fellow soldier home from Iraq who becomes Maven’s valued friend by being a sympathetic listener. At length, Royce enlists him in a risky but profitable scheme to pose as police and bust up drug deals in progress, pocketing the money and destroying the dope. The fact that Danielle is Royce’s girl certainly influences Maven’s decision, though he’s also turned on by the element of danger in every theft. In the beginning, need makes Maven ambivalent to the operation’s legal and moral implications; he seems to accept Royce’s rationalizations about the lives they’re saving. Maven also gets closer to Danielle, who is more flawed and more endearing than his unattainable high-school crush. Once she dreamed of becoming a model and making enough money to care for her handicapped sister; now she’s a coke-sniffing “kept woman,” and he knows he could fall dangerously in love with this damaged beauty. Months pass. In deep, Maven wonders where he stands: Is he Royce’s partner or his employee? With the success of their operation comes more risk and more attention from legitimate law enforcement. Pursuit comes in the person of jaded but dogged DEA agent Marcus Lash.

Grounded in a complex, nuanced portrait of Maven and a heartbreaking combination of grit and pathos, this character-driven thriller has more mainstream appeal than Hogan’s previous efforts (Prince of Thieves, 2004, etc.).