NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIAKYLE SWANSON LEANED ON
the white railing of the deck on the second floor of his house as the sun edged down toward the horizon and wondered if he had time to get out in the surf one last time, paddle down to the Wedge, ride a few sets, and get back before it got too dark. Madeline, his girlfriend of the past two weeks, was coming over after her shift in a beachfront restaurant and was expecting him to grill some tuna while she whipped up a salad. They would drink cold cerveza
and eat on the open patio with the glass doors all the way open, with a fresh ocean breeze coming in while music spilled into the night. They might take a midnight dip, and he would be dazzled by her body in that red bikini with her blond hair reflecting the moonlight. After that, a strategic retreat to the big bedroom to make love while boarders, bladers, dog walkers, tourists, and other lovers strolled the boardwalk out front, unable to see them.
No, he decided as he rubbed the freshly painted railing. He didn’t have time for that one last swim, and he and Maddy would have to part in the morning, but it had been a hell of a leave. The United States Marine Corps wanted its top sniper back on duty.
His telephone rang, as if it had been waiting for just the right moment to ruin the idyllic mood. A glance at the screen showed Lieutenant Colonel Sybelle Summers was calling from Washington. “Hey,” he said.
“Are you out of the lazy vacation mode yet?”
“Did I ever tell you that you have a sultry voice?”
“I am your superior officer, Gunnery Sergeant Swanson.”
“But we slept together once, Sybelle,” he said. “Remember? A rainy night in France?”
“I’ve never been to France. You must be thinking of your current chippie, what’s her name? Michelin, like the tires?”
“Her name is Madeline, and your memory is slipping. I thought you and I had a deep and special relationship.”
There was a slight, pleasant change in her tone. “Some people just are not that memorable.” They both laughed.
“Sybelle, why are you bothering me on my final evening of leave? Gimme a break, girl. The sun is just about down, I’m drinking beer, watching the beach, getting ready to grill a dead fish, Maddy is coming over, and the California weather is perfect. Washington, where you are sitting, is clogged with snow, according to the Weather Channel. I don’t want to come back.”
“Quit whining, Kyle. You built that big house and now you start acting all rich instead of like the raggedy-ass jarhead you are. Maddy, is it? Maddy? Is she out of high school yet?”
“Here’s a suggestion; why don’t you come out here instead? No snow.”
“Miss Maddy Michelin would be upset if I did that. Let’s get to business. You are wanted back here right away.”
“I’ll be there tomorrow afternoon anyway, Sybelle, and I can’t get back any faster than that.” He tilted back the longneck bottle of Corona beer, which was getting warm. The sky had deepened into a band of solid orange that was being chased by the heavy purple night coming from the east, and the sun was moving so fast that it seemed to be falling.
“Change of plans. A plane will be wa
Praise for the Kyle Swanson Sniper Novels
TIME TO KILL
“Coughlin and Davis’ series only gets better with each installment…Kyle Swanson returns for his boldest and best adventure yet.” —Booklist (starred review)
RUNNING THE MAZE
“A definite winner for all fans of the military action thriller.” —Booklist
“Coughlin and Davis hit the action-adventure 10-ring again.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Former Marine sniper Coughlin stretches but does not strain credulity in this intricate story that aptly illustrates the maxim ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy.’”—Publishers Weekly
‘The pages fly by as Swanson must face his most personal mission yet. The military tactics take a backseat to the characters, creating a strong and compelling narrative. Coughlin and Davis have concocted another winner that should only encourage a growing readership.”—Booklist
“Former Marine Coughlin and bestseller Davis combine a well-paced, credible plot with a realistic portrayal of modern combat. . . The climax . . .will leave readers cheering.” —Publishers Weekly
“Compelling.” —Publishers Weekly
“The [plot] propels the pages forward, but this one isn’t all about action: Swanson proves a surprisingly complex character...Dead Shot suggest[s] a hardware-heavy story that only an armed- services veteran could love. Surprisingly, it’s completely the opposite. Readers will be compelled…and will look forward to another Swanson adventure.”—Booklist
“Stunning action, excellent tradecraft, insider politics, and the ring of truth. Just about perfect.”—Lee Child
“Tight, suspenseful…Here’s hoping this is the first of many Swanson novels.” —Booklist
“The action reaches a furious pitch.”—Publishers Weekly
The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper
“One of the best snipers in the Marine Corps, perhaps the very best. When I asked one of his commanders about his skills, the commander smiled and said, ‘I’m just glad he’s on our side.’”—Peter Maass, war-correspondent and bestselling author of Love Thy Neighbor
“The combat narratives here recount battlefield action with considerable energy…A renowned sniper, Coughlin is less concerned with his tally than with the human values of comradeship and love.”—The Washington Post
“Coughlin is a sniper, perhaps one of the most respected and feared in the Corps, and his memoir, Shooter, offers a uniquely intimate look into the life of one trained to live in the shadows . . . some of the most poignant action ever recorded in a modern Marine memoir.”—Seapower magazine