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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wondering how many Stephen Hunter fans are in the forum. I discovered his books almost 20 years ago with the novel, Point of Impact. Its the best action fiction book I've ever read. Hunter is very knowledgeable about guns and his stories are very entertaining, especially the ones with Bob Lee Swagger or his father, Earl Swagger. Best after Point of Impact are Black Light, Hot Springs, Havana and Pale Horse Coming, at least in my opinion.
 

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I'm a fan also and have read most of those you mention above in the past few months. He (or his research people) seem to do a very good job with firearm descriptions. Got to tell you though, his use of the very notable people in the last third of Pale Horse Coming pretty much ruined the book for me. Just too unrealistic.
 

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I've been a reader for many years, starting with "The Master Sniper" and "The Day Before Midnight".

Hunter is a gun person, but does occasionally get things a little wrong.
Among others, he has Earl Swagger armed with a Colt Trooper .357 in 1950, and a Thompson SMG "chambering a round".
However, he does a far better job of it than most any other author, and his books are always interesting.

In my opinion, his best were "The Day Before Midnight", "Dirty White Boys", and "Point of Impact".
Some of his later books just aren't up to those standards.

Hunter has a new book coming later this year, apparently about a WWII Russian woman sniper.

"The Master Sniper" is about a hard core Nazi sniper armed with an MP-44 and the "Vampir" sight on a mission at the end of the war to pave the way for a Nazi 4th Reich.

The Day Before Midnight--
A rogue Russian commando force take-over of an impregnable missile site, a key to Hell, an impervious multi-ton block of titanium, a kidnapped master metal cutting expert, and two Vietnam era tunnel experts; one an American tunnel-rat doing hard time in prison, the other an insane Viet Cong woman.

"Dirty White Boys" concerns a group of escaped prison inmates who go on a bloody crime spree across Oklahoma and a State Trooper they left for dead in hot pursuit.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, I read those earlier books too and The Day Before Midnight is a good one too. Dirty White Boys is fast paced but the Pye boys and the girlfriend made me want to shower every time I put down the book. Certainly a dirty bunch! But that's what Hunter wanted to present to the reader.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The first book I read was Point of Impact and it was so good I think it spoiled the next few I read which were earlier, The Master Sniper, Second Saladin and Tapestry of Spies. They just didn't do much for me, at least at the time. Maybe I will read them again soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I should say that Time to Hunt is very good too with a very satisfying conclusion. The mid part of the book slows a little while Hunter details Bob Lee Swagger's sniper duty in Vietnam but is necessary to the story as a whole.
 

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I have read a lot of Hunters books along with many other authors and normally they run together but Dirty White Boys will stick in my mind until I lose the abilty to remember. Those are some pretty evil characters...
 

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"American Gunfight" can be a maddening read.
The actual gunfight at Blair Mansion took only a few seconds, and the two would-be assassins nearly won through.
While the police were shooting Colt revolvers in the old "Duelist" extended one-hand single action target shooting method, the two attackers, not knowing anything about guns, instinctively used both hands and nearly won the fight.

What's so maddening about the book is that while the fight took seconds, the book takes LOOONNGGG side trips into the politics and culture of Puerto Rico. After a while you just want to scream "GET ON WITH IT".
This is Hunter's only book that was co-written with another author, to the detriment of the book.
 

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I read The Day Before Midnight years ago, when I didn't know who Stephen Hunter was, and now I have all of his Bob Lee Swagger books on Kindle.
 

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I have been a Stephen Hunter fan for a long time, read ‘em all. Dirty White Boys IMHO was the best (he really paints a picture of low down dirty scum). I would have to agree that his later offerings haven’t been quite up to his usual quality. Although The Third Bullet (deals with the JFK assassination) was an unexpected surprise. Speaking of the JFK assassination (off on a little tangent), I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King, but, 11/22/63 was quite good. I enjoyed it very much, quite possibly one of the best fiction books I have read. If you were to look at my bookshelves, you would see that puts it in front of a lot of books.
 

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This may surprise you guys but one of the hunter novels I liked the best, although I like them all, is the 47th Samurai. He really made me realize what kind of damage can be done by a well trained man with a Japanese Katana.
 

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"American Gunfight" can be a maddening read.
The actual gunfight at Blair Mansion took only a few seconds, and the two would-be assassins nearly won through.
While the police were shooting Colt revolvers in the old "Duelist" extended one-hand single action target shooting method, the two attackers, not knowing anything about guns, instinctively used both hands and nearly won the fight.

What's so maddening about the book is that while the fight took seconds, the book takes LOOONNGGG side trips into the politics and culture of Puerto Rico. After a while you just want to scream "GET ON WITH IT".
This is Hunter's only book that was co-written with another author, to the detriment of the book.
I agree with your evaluation - it was a tough read due to the jumping back and forth. It'd be great if someone copied and pasted just the gunfight all into one piece.

There is an unofficial Stephen Hunter fan site here: The Unofficial Stephen Hunter Website Unfortunately it doesn't look like it's been updated for several years. It does list most of his books in order here: Books by Stephen Hunter The newest ones not listed are I Sniper, Dead Zero, Soft Target and The Third Bullet. According to Amazon his newest book is titled She, Sniper and is due to come out May 2014. From reading a small excerpt it appears to be about a female sniper in Stalingrad during WWII, and Bob Lee Swagger's efforts to find out about her.

Hunter Books
It's probably best to read the books in the order that they were written, rather than trying to read them in "chronological" order or at random. Point of Impact is the first Bob Lee novel - his earlier works are only tangentially related to the Swagger world, if at all.

I first learned of Hunter and his work when I read an interview with him in American Handgunner (reprinted here: The Unofficial Stephen Hunter Website). In the magazine they talked a little bit more about Pale Horse Coming, and I just had to read it. That got me hooked, and I've read all the rest of his books except Target, which is a book adaptation of a movie. I finished his latest book The Third Bullet a few weeks ago - not bad. His previous book Soft Target was not worth reading - skip it.

Pale Horse Coming was a hoot, with the last third containing thinly veiled characters based on real life gun writers and pistoleros. Totally implausible, but real fun to read.

Elmer Kaye (Elmer Keith)
Jack O'Brian (Jack O'Connor)
Ed McGriffin (Ed McGivern)
Audie Ryan (Audie Murphy)
Bill Jennings (Bill Jordan)
Charlie Hatchison (Charles Askins)

Hunter has a great talent at describing guns and shooting, with not just technical descriptions but is able to evoke the smell of burning powder, the greasy feel of lead bullets, the thump of recoil and slap of muzzle blast - the viscera of the experience.

His primary characters have been Bob Lee Swagger and his father Earl, but I love the way he interweaves characters from his earlier books - for instance a Russian mentioned in several books, and the character Frenchy Short. Havana has several characters like that, including one from his first book Master Sniper. However Earl didn't live long enough to have a lot of adventures so that well is pretty much dry, and Bob Lee is getting old. In the book Dead Zero Hunter has introduced a new character Ray Cruz whom he can continue with, thanks to a deus ex machina.

My personal favorite is Hot Springs, and I wish he'd go back to explore a character from that book - Charles Swagger, Earl's father and Bob Lee's grandfather. How did Charles actually come to be mortally wounded in that Hot Springs whorehouse? Did he really drive Earl's brother to suicide? Was he really as bad as Earl thought he was, a hypocrite quoting the Bible on one hand and consorting with black boy prostitutes on the other? But what do we really know about him? Only what small amount Earl described in bitter memory that may be tainted. I think it'd be extremely interesting to read stuff set in the Roaring '20s, Depression '30s and early '40s.

Regardless, I'd like for Hunter to flesh out this part of the Swagger clan, and read his take on an early 20th century Bible thumping, head thumping, fire and brimstone Arkansas lawman.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Tom: Very good post. Thank you. And I agree that Charles Swagger might make a good novel. French Short is also an interesting character. Too bad he totally gave into the "dark side" after showing doing some good things like nailing Bugsy at the end of Hot Springs.
 
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