A Book Spy Review: ‘Long Shot’ by Jack Coughlin

26114134.jpgWhen a Russian who has some history with Kyle Swanson suddenly defects from Russia, he refuses to speak to anyone other than Swanson. It turns out that the man possesses a ton of classified intel, detailing when and how Russian President Vladimir Pushkin plans to take back the land that once belonged to the Soviet Union. 

Swanson, a former Gunnery Sergeant and top Marine sniper, is now working with the CIA. Though he’s still one of the elite snipers in the world, lethal from even beyond one mile from his target, he’s a little different than when Coughlin first introduced him to readers in Kill Zone (2007). He seems a tad more mellow, as if he’s in a better place in life now than before. For longtime fans of the series, it’s not hard to imagine why that is.

The Russian intelligence officer has a treasure trove of secrets, but the more he talks, the more Swanson senses something is off. Trusting his instincts and gut feeling, Swanson does some digging and unearths a massive conspiracy designed to pit America up against NATO. 

Swanson sets out to expose the real bad guys, who don’t exactly go running when the famed sniper locks onto them. Instead, the Russians snatch Calico, Swanson’s lady friend and current CIA station chief in Estonia to throw him off and slow him down. 

When things get personal for Swanson, he turns his anger into laser-like focus, which he uses to give himself an advantage over his opposition. But as he hunts down the bad guys one by one, he soon realizes that they’re slipping him far too easy for it to just be a coincidence. They’re either incredibly lucky, or there’s yet another conspiracy lurking behind the scenes. 

On the run with the clock winding down, Swanson suspects that someone close to him is working with the Russians. Without knowing for sure who, or why they betrayed him, Swanson goes off the grid, much to the dismay of those in his own government who want to deploy a different diplomatic approach, to sort things out for all. 

In a genre full of tough guys who can all do damage at close range, Swanson strikes fear into the heart of his enemies from a long distance. As everyone knows, you can’t outrun a skilled sniper, especially when it’s Kyle Swanson pulling the trigger.

Long Shot is a fantastic political thriller with an explosive, conspiracy-laden plot that moves faster than a sniper’s bullet. Fans of the genre, especially those who enjoy Stephen Hunter, will devour this book. 

My Thoughts

To say that Jack Coughlin knows his stuff would be a severe understatement. Coughlin served with the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines and was one of America’s most decorated snipers with over sixty confirmed kills. He detailed his time with the Marines in his autobiography, Shooter

Coughlin writes with the kind of realism and authenticity that only those who have been there and done that can capture on the page.

I get chills whenever Swanson gets behind the scope of his rifle. Coughlin puts readers right there in the moment, which is super intense. If your adrenaline doesn’t get pumping during this book, you either have nerves of steel or need to get yourself checked out. 

Stories starring snipers are really hit or miss. The lone wolf attitude that most protagonists carry into these books limits how much an author has to work with. Scott McEwen, for example, missed the mark this year with Ghost Sniper. And while I can’t say that I loved all of Coughlin’s books, Long Shot is easily one of his better novels. 

Where the action is top-notch and electrifying, if not overpowering, some of the dialogue felt contrived and unspontaneous. I knew what several characters were going to say even before they said it. None of it was cringe-worthy, but it’s definitely Coughlin’s weakness. It’s kind of like watching a good movie with a strong plot where some of the supporting cast can’t act well–it takes you out of the story for a moment.

Then again, Swanson is at his best when he’s laying prone with his mouth shut while tracking an enemy. Those scenes alone are worth the price of admission, and Coughlin crafted one of his better thought-out plots around them. 

Long Shot, while a little on the short side, does set up a potential tenth book that will likely get fans excited as they turn the final page. 

Book Details

Author: Jack Coughlin and Donald A. Davis

Pages: 294 (Hardcover)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 16, 2016 (Order Now!)

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