November 23rd, 2011

"Soft Target" — New Thriller by Stephen Hunter

Stephen Hunter, creator of the Bob Lee Swagger sniper books, has produced a new action thriller, called Soft Target. This time it’s not Bob “The Nailer” Swagger who’s the center of attention. Instead the hero of Soft Target is Ray Cruz, an ex-Marine sniper introduced in Hunter’s last best-seller, Dead Zero.

Stephen Hunter Ray Cruise Soft TargetThe book’s storyline involves an attack by Somali terrorists at a giant shopping mall in Minnesota (based on the Mall of America). On the day after Thanksgiving (“Black Friday”), 12 Somali gunmen open fire in the Mall, causing panic among the crowds of shoppers. Quickly the gunmen herd more than a thousand hostages into a cluster in the center of the Mall.

Ray Cruz, the USMC sniper gone “rogue” in Dead Zero, is trapped in the mall with his fiancée and her family. Cruz, a retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant (and Bob Lee Swagger’s son), develops a plan to challenge the terrorists and free the hostages. But first he needs to find a weapon….

Outside the Mall, FBI Sniper Dave McElroy has a gun. But, as positioned on the Mall roof, he is effectively cut off from his targets. Can Cruz somehow connect with the police and FBI teams? Taking place over a four-hour span, the story follows both hostages and gunmen, detailing the brutal actions of the terrorists, the crazed media coverage, and the struggle for control between the FBI and regional SWAT teams.

QUICK REVIEW: We got hold of an advance copy of Soft Target. Overall, we like it. This is a well-written page-turner, combining action with deft social commentary. The terrorist attack within our borders is plausible. As a fictional hero, Ray Cruz lacks the hard-edged appeal of Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger character (who was modeled after Carlos Hathcock). But Cruz is much more believable than the typical “action heros” who populate the military-thriller genre. Soft Target does have its shortcomings. The Harvard-educated, African-American Commandant of the Minnesota State Police (Col. Douglas Obobo) is an all-too-predictable Obama caricature. The Somali bad guys are stereotypical, ignorant Islamics. But, the diabolical young American mastermind of the attack is a fresh, clever creation. And, as you’d expect from Stephen Hunter, the gun/shooting elements of the story are delivered with technical proficiency and authenticity. Suspenseful to the end, the book is an entertaining read, with some clever takes on modern American culture/politics. Hunter’s fans won’t be disappointed. All things considered, we’d say this is one of Hunter’s better novels in recent years.

Soft Target is set for mass release on December 6, 2012. You can pre-order hardbacks and Kindle eBook editions from Amazon.com.

Hardcover:

Kindle Edition:
Soft Target eBook

Stephen Hunter is the author of 17 novels. Prior to his retirement from The Baltimore Sun, he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for his work as the Sun’s chief film critic. Hunter’s previous Bob Lee Swagger and Ray Cruz books have been popular best-sellers.

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October 29th, 2010

Bob the Nailer is Back — Just in Time for the Holidays

Stephen Hunter Dead Zero novelYes, you Bob Lee Swagger fans, Stephen Hunter has finished a new novel, Dead Zero, set for release on December 28, 2010. In the new book, Swagger, the marksman/hero of seven of Hunter’s novels, is involved in Afghan intrigue. Swagger is recruited by the FBI to stop a a Marine scout-sniper who has “gone rogue” with plans to kill Ibrahim Zarzi, an Afghani warlord. Zarzi happens to be an American “asset” and the alphabet intelligence agencies need to keep him breathing. The problem is that, the more Swagger uncovers, the more he questions the U.S. government’s connection with Zarzi. The novel explores the shifting loyalties of international foreign policy, where enemies become friends, and friends become enemies.

Dead Zero features an older, more contemplative Swagger, but the book still delivers plenty of action. And, as we’ve come to expect from Stephen Hunter, the new book features accurate and precise writing about firearms technology and sniper techniques. Hunter is perhaps the only current best-selling author with a solid understanding of ballistics, modern firearms, and long-range marksmanship.

Pre-Order through Amazon.com

You can pre-order “Dead Zero” through Amazon.com for December delivery. Just click the link at right. The Kindle edition is $12.99, while the hardback version is $15.60.

About the Author
Stephen Hunter has written 16 novels, including seven Bob Lee Swagger books, starting with Point of Impact. The retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, Hunter won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism. Hunter talks about his new book, Dead Zero, in the Youtube video below.

Visit Amazon’s Stephen Hunter Page

Stephen Hunter Talks about Dead Zero, his new novel.
This video is quite funny in spots and Stephen does plenty of shooting….

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