In the last 20 years Phil Broker has pulled himself together. A good, tough undercover cop in Minnesota, he knows the difference between a sucker punch and a lucky break. And although he's put his Vietnam years behind him, the grown daughter of his old commander has been dogging his heels for months. Nina Pryce is trying to exonerate her dishonorably discharged dead father and -- more importantly -- find the 10 tons of gold he helped liberate during a U.S. commando mission. Broker doesn't like the smell of it. Still, Nina has her charms, and can be very persuasive. The only problem is, two of Broker's old army buddies have beaten them to the search. Rich, sadistic Cyrus La Porte has the means, but no direction. Convicted thief Jimmy Tuna has a line on the location but no cash. Jimmy's a dying man with nothing left to win -- or lose. And Broker and Nina know both men would kill them for the slimmest chance to take it all.
The thrill of a treasure hunt permeates Logan's second novel (after Hunter's Moon), adding a dash of childlike excitement to the gritty realism. Vietnam vet Phil Broker, now an undercover cop in the Minneapolis area, gets a surprise visit from Nina Pryce, a feisty Silver Star winner in the Gulf War and the daughter of Broker's dead army buddy Ray Pryce. Nina has proof that her father did not, as everyone thinks, abandon his buddies to steal tons of gold bullion in Hue City in the waning days of the Vietnam War. Her evidence points to Cyrus LaPorte (another old army buddy), who is now a rich New Orleans tycoon. To clear her father and nail LaPorte for the theft, Nina and Broker must find the bullion, a quest that brings them up against hired thugs, a dying friend, a bride who wants her husband murdered and in Vietnam another old comrade who may have her own agenda. Logan creates a world that feels original. The brooding, untrusting Vietnam vet has become a thriller clich , but Broker's attitude seems fresh when played off against Nina's gung-ho, chip-on-her-shoulder Gulf War vet. Full of new textures and twists, this darkly entertaining novel deserves a wide readership and sustains Logan's promise as one of the best of the new thriller breed. $50,000 ad/promo; author tour; U.K., translation, dramatic rights: ICM. (Mar.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 25, 2003
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Excerpt from The Price of Blood by Chuck Logan
Broker's House Was Falling Into The Ravine
The problem was the sloping yard and the exposed limestone foundation that had pushed out in two of the corners. Spring rains had turned the mud basement into a storm sewer, and now a gravel-toothed ditch stretched from the foundation down to the ravine like an Okie's Dust Bowl nightmare. This condition had undermined the back of the house and caused the buckled linoleum floor in the kitchen to pitch ten degrees and, back when he smoked, Broker could lay a cigarette on the table and watch it roll due east.
When he'd moved from St. Paul he'd bought the house for the lot, which had a clear view of the St. Croix River. Property was taking off in Stillwater and someday they'd pave the street and bring in city water and sewer to the north end. Someday he'd jack up the original 1870s row house, slap in a solid foundation, tear off the screwed-up kitchen addition and put in a real kitchen that some yuppies fleeing the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro would pay big bucks for. Then he'd sell it and invest in the resort his folks owned up north . . .
But that was a retirement plan and, for now, grass went knee-high in the steep, eroded backyard and the neighborhood cats and nocturnal raccoons could prowl through it unobserved, while his crop of dandelions threatened to mutate into sunflowers. And the lilac hedges were headed for jungle and the rain had caved in the footings he'd put in to pave the dirt driveway.
His dust-busted '87 Ford Ranger was parked in the back and angled downhill, trusting in the emergency brake and two cobblestones jammed under the front wheels to keep it from rolling off the lot.