I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter
Bob “The Nailer” Swagger is back in Stephen Hunter’s new novel, I, Sniper. Released at the end of 2009, Hunter’s new Bob Lee Swagger story has earned praise as “the best Stephen Hunter book in years.”
In I, Sniper, four Vietnam-era peaceniks are shot dead and retired military sniper Carl Hitchcock is framed for their murders. (The Hitchcock character is based, as you’ve guessed, on famed USMC sniper Carlos Hathcock). Swagger soon realizes that Hitchcock, a fellow ex-Marine and Vietnam vet, is innocent, while the real killer, who’s using high-tech, electronic sniper gear, is still at large. Swagger sets out to find the actual shooter.
If you liked Hunter’s Point of Impact, you’ll probably love the new book. The plot is compelling and Bob Lee Swagger remains the ultimate marksman/crime solver. Hunter, an avid shooter and Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist, knows his firearms, so the gunfights and other action scenes are believable, and the discussions of long-range shooting and ballistics are correct.
One of the best things about I, Sniper is that Hunter takes on the liberal media. One character is a New York Times reporter, who is used as a foil to show the ignorance of the mainstream media about gun matters. In an interview with American Rifleman magazine, Hunter explains: “One of the themes in I, Sniper is how an extremely sophisticated news organization can make a really stupid gun error and have no idea that they’re doing it. How can you be so certain of your politics if you have such an infirm grasp of the reality of the instrument (firearms). You know, maybe if your grasp of the reality of the instrument is ludicrously incorrect, maybe your grasp of the politics of the instrument is ludicrously incorrect [also], and you want to re-examine both issues.”
If you’re thinking about buying this book, read some of the 50+ reviews on Amazon.com. Most reviews are four-star or five-star, but some folks feel Hunter’s writing is sloppy in places and the book should have been more tightly edited. Other critics say Hunter gets “too political” in this book. This Editor believes the jabs at the liberal media are one of the book’s better features. I suspect Hunter’s viewpoints will be welcomed by most of his readers. Here are representative reader reviews from Amazon.com:
This book is classic Bob Lee Swagger. Great read. Also, as a gun owner and 2nd Amendment supporter, I love the not-so-subtle-jabs at the liberal media and their woeful understanding of the south, gun culture, law abiding citizens who own guns legally. [Hunter] picks on the New York Times, which is hilarious and accurate. Great job Mr. Hunter.
Hunter is at his best in I, Sniper. Dialogue? Crisp, real, down to earth, and sometimes hysterically funny. Action? Have a box of Depends at the ready. Technical support? Pay attention. Reading Hunter is like taking a Master’s course in armament.
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