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Political Intrigue, Mind-Bending Nightmares and Moral Depravity in January Thrillers


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The Bullet Garden by Stephen Hunter

Stephen Hunter didn’t invent the action thriller, but he might as well have in his Bob Lee Swagger novels. For my money, though, Hunter may well have topped himself when he brought Bob’s dad Earl Swagger into the mix, and it’s Earl who dominates The Bullet Garden (Atria).

The Allied cadre, led by General Dwight Eisenhower himself, needs a gunman to counter a strategic operation undertaken by the vaunted and heinous German SS — specifically, a sniper capable of making an ultra-long-range shot. That describes Earl Swagger to a T. True to his heroic nature, Earl takes on a mission behind enemy lines that’s fraught with risk from deadly bad guys and hapless good ones. As always, though, Earl is up to the task.

World War II has become a resurgent trope for thriller writers, but Hunter serves up a fresh and original take. Besides, anytime a book carries the name “Swagger” associated with it, all thriller fans should take notice. Hunter remains the best pure high-octane action writer of this generation. Simply stated, nobody does this kind of tale better.

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