Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Third Bullet - Book Review

Goodness me, has it really been over four months since I last posted a book review?  I suppose it has, though I must admit to having re-read Stephen Hunter's Soft Target during that time.  Is that all?  I guess so.  But it's more a testament to my inability to find anything worth reading rather than being too busy to read anything.  And if I don't post about it, it didn't happen.  So I'll have to plead guilty and try to do a better job and read more books.

So since the last book I've read was by Stephen Hunter, it seems only appropriate that I've come roaring back with Stephen Hunter's latest, The Third Bullet.  A tale of the Kennedy assassination, Hunter isn't a conspiracy theorist and claims to be an believer in the Warren Commission Report and Bugliosi's and Posner's conspiracy debunking but he takes the set of known facts, looks at them through the eyes of a well-seasoned sniper, twists a motive here, adds a character there, and gives us an entirely plausible new theory to ponder.  Sure, it's fiction, but why couldn't things have happened the way Hunter describes?  (Hunter has some fun with the conspiracy theorists by detailing one theory of how a second shooter came from the future, a plot device right out of Terminator.  And, if you think about it, it's not too far-fetched.  If you believe in time travel.)

But forget all that.  You want to know if Hunter brings the shoot-em-ups and the best writing you're likely to find on guns and ammunition and sniper-ing.  Dang straight he does.  He takes great delight in killing off his first victim - a thriller-writer whose series' main character is a lot like Swagger.  Hmmm.  Who could this be?  (In interviews, Hunter denies any other purpose than to get the plot a'rollin'.  I think he's a bit too self-satisfied with that explanation.)  But most importantly, Hunter brings back Bob Lee Swagger and even for a few lines Swagger's father, Earl.  Fans, like me, of the Swagger mythos will rejoice and believe the ultimate reason why Swagger investigates the assassination:  no, not because of Kennedy but because of another government official who, like Swagger's daddy, was gunned down while doing his duty.

A slam-bang effort at taking another look at a popular myth.  (Okay, not myth - the assassination actually happened - but the events of that dreadful day have reached a near-myth level in this country.)