Featured Review: ‘Game of Snipers’ by Stephen Hunter

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Game of SnipersBob “the Nailer” Swagger returns in another rip-roaring thriller from New York Times bestseller Stephen Hunter (G-Man, 2017, etc.), who serves up another thrilling adventure featuring the world’s more feared sniper. 

Until now, when it comes to the long gun, Bob Lee Swagger’s unique set of skills has gone unmatched on the battlefield. That changes, though, when a man his equal in every way sets his sights on Swagger—who is determined to help a woman in desperate pursuit of exacting justice for her fallen son. 

It all started when Janet McDowell arrived unannounced at Swagger’s Cascade, Idaho ranch, and asked him to help her track down the man who killed her son. More than a decade prior, Lance Corporal Thomas McDowell was shot and killed while in Baghdad, and Janet has spent the years since furiously trying to track down the man who pulled the trigger. Risking everything, including her life, Janet has visited the Mid East—where she was beaten and raped, talked to soldiers who served with her son, and followed every clue she could uncover.

Quitting her job and spending every waking moment pouring over the details she’s compiled has left her lonely and broke. Sustained by loans from family and friends, Janet’s obsessions lead to her being shunned by the CIA and Pentagon, who dismiss her as a crazed, heart-broken mother with an ax to grind, but no actionable intel. What they don’t know, however, is that Janet has indeed found the man who killed Tommy—a legendary gunman known only as “Juba the Sniper,” and she wants Swagger to travel to a small town in southern Syria and repay the favor by putting a bullet in him from a mile away. 

Though he feels for Janet and wants to help, Swagger is initially reluctant to hop behind the scope and do her dirty work, citing her motive as revenge, making the killing murder and not merely a casualty of war. Instead, he travels to Tel Aviv, where he meets with a contact inside the Mossad, and passes the info to them. As it turns out, the Israelis want Juba bad, but they’re more interested in bringing him in for questioning in relation to several past incidents. The more Swagger learns about the sniper, the more he realizes his involvement may be necessary—and though he’s now in his seventies, the Nailer suits up once again to see the job through. 

Right from the get-go, almost nothing goes according to plan, and Swagger quickly realizes there’s more to Juba and his past than he or Janet originally thought. Worse, the killer might have another target in play, and it’s up to Bob Lee to put the rest of the clues together in time to stop him before it’s too late . . . 

While all of Hunter’s books have been strong, this one’s on another level. Compared to G-Man, Game of Snipers has double to action, twice the suspense, and a faster plot than anything he’s written in the last decade. Swagger is getting older, but he’s far from over the hill. Thanks to a new hip and toned muscles from playing cowboy on his ranch all day every day, the Nailer is still able to run and gun when needed—and he uses every bit of his experience and skills here. The story, which starts fast and accelerates harder with each page, is engaging and filled with twists. Flashback scenes show the true evil of the sniper Swaggers takes on, but it’s the promise of a bigger, more high-stakes reveal that makes this one impossible to put down. 

In Bob Lee Swagger’s case, older just means more experienced, and he’s still one of the most badass characters in the genre. Stephen Hunter brought his A-game in a big way here . . . Game of Snipers is one of the hottest books hitting store shelves this summer. 

Book Details

Author: Stephen Hunter
Series: Bob Lee Swagger #11
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399574573
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

 

 

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