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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 deja 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--azombifying 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.
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