The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press

The Hot Country

A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

by Robert Olen Butler

From the Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award–winning Robert Olen Butler comes his first crime novel, a sweeping saga of espionage, suspense, action, and love set in Mexico just before World War I.

  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date October 08, 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2154-7
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

In The Hot Country, Christopher Marlowe Cobb (“Kit”), the swashbuckling early-twentieth-century American newspaper war correspondent travels to Mexico in 1914, during that country’s civil war, and the controversial presidency of Victoriano Huerta, El Chacal (The Jackal). Covering the war in enemy territory and in the sweltering heat, Cobb falls in love with Luisa, a young Mexican laundress, who is not as innocent as she seems.

One day the intrepid war reporter soon witnesses a priest being shot, but the bullet ricochets off the cross the holy man wears around his neck and leaves him unharmed. Cobb employs a young pickpocket to help him find out the identity of the sniper and, more importantly, why important German officials are sneaking into the city in the middle of the night from ships docked in the port.

An exciting tale of intrigue and espionage, Butler’s powerful crime-fiction debut is a thriller not to be missed.


“No writer in America today can be said to surpass Butler in the eating-his-cake-and-having-it-too category: He’s literary and entertaining, serious and funny. Within his clear and fluent narratives, there usually nestles complexity, if you care to look for it.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“This high-spirited adventure by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler is an antic concoction of genre clichés, literary send-ups, personal homages, fanciful history and passages of great writing.” —The New York Times Book Review

“It’s an exciting story, much of it based on fact, and Butler has a good time with it. His writing is both crisp and thoughtful, his people ring true and he offers an amusing portrait of a golden age in journalism. . . . The Hot Country is a thinking person’s thriller, the kind of exotic adventure that, in better days, would have been filmed by Sam Peckinpah.” —The Washington Post

“From the first page of this tightly plotted, singularly voiced novel, you sense that Butler has a genuine feel, and perhaps even love, for this propulsive kind of story. . . . Filled with political intrigue, mortal danger and high adventure. Robert Olen Butler’s first foray into the genre is a genuine and exhilarating success.” —Times (UK)

“A high-spirited adventure.” —Charlotte Observer

“Butler takes an often-overlooked chapter of history and turns it into a whip-smart tale of intrigue and espionage.” —CNN.com

“Enjoyable novel that should attract devotees of espionage and historical fiction.” —Library Journal

“A fine stylist, Butler renders the time and place in perfect detail.” —Publishers Weekly

“An awfully good read.” —Criminal Intent

“[The Hot Country is] Robert Olen Butler’s fast-paced entrée into adventure tales. Add a little Indiana Jones and you get the picture: a smart guy also handy with his fists and firearms, burdened with a dedication to finding out the truth.” —Plaza de Armas

“Ray Chase’s characterization of journalist Christopher Marlowe Cobb sublimely captures his transition from war correspondent . . . to undercover operative.” —AudioFile

“Pancho Villa, fiery senoritas, and Germans up to no good—Robert Olen Butler is having fun in The Hot Country and readers will too. An intelligent entertainment with colorful history.” —Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author of The Good German and Istanbul Passage

The Hot Country is a spirited and beautifully told tale of adventure and intrigue in the grand old style, rich in both insight and atmosphere. Going off to war with Kit Cobb is as bracing and fun as it used to be in George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books, or in Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste novels. And the best part is that there are more to come. Saddle up.” —Dan Fesperman, Hammett award-winning author of The Double Game


Washington Post Best Books of 2012


When I got back to Bunky at our table in the portales, he had a mezcal before him and I wondered how many times he’d tapped his saucer already.

But he seemed perfectly clear-headed. “Sniper?” he asked.

“Yeah. Plugged a priest.”


“Nope. Knocked on his ass and stigmatized.”

Bunky nodded as if this were all clear to him, which it couldn’t be. He waited to see if I wanted to say more, and I knew he wouldn’t ask if I didn’t. He was a good man. Maybe he was picking up on my mood about this. I really just wanted to have a drink. I didn’t want to think about a female sniper in Vera Cruz, even if she wasn’t the girl who put a gun to my head a few nights ago.

But I said, “Bullet in the palm and one in the center of his crucifix that did nothing but topple him over.”

“Quaint little story.”

“Quaint little no-story.”

Bunky nodded again.

“Surprising lot of folks down here got a beef with the church.”

“It’s about money.”

There was a commotion off to our left. We looked.