Plus, receive recommendations and exclusive offers on all of your favorite books and authors from Simon & Schuster.
Table of Contents
About The Book
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.
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.
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 22, 2019)
- Length: 544 pages
- ISBN13: 9781501101755
Browse Related Books
Raves and Reviews
PRAISE FOR THE DESERTER
“[O]utstanding...In typical DeMille fashion, the last hundred pages move along like a ballistic missile, exploding in a satisfying finale on a remote airstrip. DeMille and son provide it all in this rumble Through the jungle – authentic detail, lively dialogue, a vividly drawn setting, and an exhilarating plot.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW
"Nelson DeMille simply gets better every time he puts pen to paper. Maybe this time it has to do with a little help from Alex DeMille. I’m not sure if that’s true, but what I’m sure of is that it’s a blessing to have another DeMille with superb storytelling skills on the horizon. THE DESERTER will soar to the top of bestseller lists in record time, without any hesitation. It can’t fail. This book is absolutely stunning."
— Book Reporter
PRAISE FOR THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER THE CUBAN AFFAIR
“[An] action-packed, relentlessly paced thriller… A line from the novel perfectly describes this page-turner: ‘Sex, money, and adventure. Does it get any better than that?’”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“DeMille's latest is a timely stay-up-all-night, nail-biting page-turner featuring his iconic tongue-in-cheek, articulate, rhythmic narrative. His affably irreverent protagonist, fantastic believable supporting characters, and tense, realistic Cuba-set scenes including some jaw-dropping revelations make this a must-read for his many fans.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“The Cuban Affair feels authentic and real, and it provides knuckle-white tension mixed in with levity."
"The opening of The Cuban Affair is dynamite—crisp, funny and dramatic—and the climactic conclusion is masterful action writing, fast, precise and genuinely gripping."
"This is powerful, mythic stuff, like Confederate gold and Nazi treasure...As the true nature of the charter-boat owner’s job becomes clear and the betrayals begin, DeMille mounts a long, magnificent sequence with boat chases, helicopter rescues, and tracer fire. They’re all described in that visceral style the author has mastered."
"This book has that incredible wit that Nelson DeMille has, and nobody writes characters like Nelson does."
—Tampa Bay Times
“Nelson DeMille has outdone himself. I thought that Plum Island was one of my favorite thrillers of all time, but I was wrong—DeMille is always going up a gear and The Cuban Affair is going to be one of the top ten thrillers of the year.”
"DeMille’s known for penning hot thrillers (Plum Island, Night Fall), and this one—his 20th—doesn’t disappoint...DeMille keeps it fast-paced, with fascinating details about contemporary Cuba."
“With his latest, The Cuban Affair, DeMille cements his reputation as an author of compelling, finely crafted and at times, humorous standalone thrillers. he Cuban Affair bursts with DeMille’s signature authenticity—a byproduct of DeMille’s passion for research.”
—The Big Thrill
"Ambitious...a masterpiece of both form and function. Storytelling at its very best."
“The Cuban Affair offers romance, adventure and an astute and amusing look at today’s Cuban communist police state."
"Bestseller Nelson DeMille’s reputation precedes him, and his new novel delivers...This one will keep you on the edge of your seat."
"With his signature humor and heart-pounding pace, DeMille does not disappoint in this brilliantly written novel."
—Atlanta Jewish Times
“The thriller charts a satisfying course. A good day's work from an old pro.”
Resources and Downloads
High Resolution Images
- Book Cover Image (jpg): The Deserter Hardcover 9781501101755
- Author Photo (jpg): Nelson DeMille John Ellis Kordes Photography(0.1 MB)
Any use of an author photo must include its respective photo credit
- Author Photo (jpg): Alex DeMille Dagmar Weaver-Madsen(0.1 MB)
Any use of an author photo must include its respective photo credit
You may also like: Thriller and Mystery Staff Picks
More to Explore
Our Summer Reading Recommendations
Red-hot romances, poolside fiction, and blockbuster picks, oh my! Start reading the hottest books of the summer.
This Month's New Releases
From heart-pounding thrillers to poignant memoirs and everything in between, check out what's new this month.