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The Third Bullet: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel Hardcover – 8 Jan 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (8 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145164020X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451640205
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 422,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“The Swagger novel we've all been waiting for, and the Swagger novel Stephen Hunter was born to write . . . a magnificent thriller—and it might even be true.” (Lee Child #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Wanted Man and The Affair)

“Like an elite sniper, Stephen Hunter zeroes in on one of the most infamous shots ever fired and delivers a mind-bending thriller that answers the question ‘What if?’ in astonishingly plausible detail. The Third Bullet is his best Bob Lee Swagger thriller yet.” (Vince Flynn #1 New York Times bestselling author of Kill Shot)

“Former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger tackles the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories—the 1963 Kennedy assassination—in his latest adventure. . . . The author’s obsessive attention to the events of Nov. 22 yields a stunningly plausible theory that will have readers holding the book in one hand and Googling satellite photos of Dealey Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository with the other.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Hunter is extremely well-versed on guns and ballistics, and Swagger is nothing short of a legend. . . . it’ll be catnip to conspiracy-minded readers . . . The whole thing ends with a shootout in rural Connecticut that's so tense you'll burn your dinner rather than stop reading.” (Washington Post)

“Hunter’s action-packed new thriller, The Third Bullet . . . introduces a shockingly plausible alternative to the Lee Harvey Oswald-‘lone gunman’ explanation.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“For nearly 50 years, the world has been obsessing over the assassination of JFK, from grassy knolls to magic bullets. Finally, though, there’s somebody on the case who likes to act more than talk: Bob Lee Swagger. . . . like Stephen King in 11/22/63, Hunter has used the assassination to forge a terrific thriller.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Bestseller Hunter’s solid eighth thriller featuring master sniper Bob Lee Swagger . . . plunges into the byzantine world of conspiracy theory. Hunter develops some new angles on the JFK assassination.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Some of Hunter’s best writing can be found here, along with new revelations about Swagger . . . . Then, of course, there is the investigation into Kennedy’s death on that fateful day in Dallas and its conclusions. Hunter raises some thought-provoking questions, and while the ‘who’ in the equation may still be in doubt, the answers to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ may be contained in this work, which is labeled as ‘fiction’ but could be much more.” (Bookreporter.com)

The Third Bullet is as riveting as it is ambitious. It's Stephen Hunter's best so far.” (Michael Connelly #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Drop and The Black Box)

“Stephen Hunter is the bullseye ace of the modern thriller, a cerebral mix of mystery, blood, brutality, treachery and suspense. The Third Bullet is Hunter at the absolute apex of his art. Come on—it's time to hunt!” (Stephen Coonts New York Times bestselling author of The Disciple)

“One of the hardest things for a writer to do is establish an identity, but there is no mistaking Stephen Hunter’s thrillers. They have a unique insight into what it takes to be a hero, combined with an unequaled lyrical, even poetic approach to the ballistics, tactics, and firearms of a gunfight. Hunter’s novels (what a great last name, given his themes) combine authenticity with fascinating, compelling, real-feeling characters, and in The Third Bullet, he even adds a further dimension, experimenting with structure while embedding literary quotations. To me, he's a model of what a thriller author can be.” (David Morrell New York Times bestselling author of First Blood)

“Only Stephen Hunter, with his brilliant knowledge of firearms, could have produced The Third Bullet and offered up a plausible explanation for one of our nation’s greatest mysteries. Despite the explosive subject matter, there is a jauntiness approaching pure joy in both the reading and the storytelling. This book will be huge.” (C.J. Box New York Times bestselling author of Force of Nature)

“Mr. Hunter, as adept at spinning a yarn as Swagger is at hitting a bull’s-eye, has had the freedom to not only theorize, but also to create characters and situations designed to answer most of the questions raised by skeptics over the years. This transparency permits his clever, smartly constructed, and well-researched plot to fit the known bits and pieces of what happened on that dark day in Dallas into a completed jigsaw puzzle that shows readers precisely why the crime was committed—and who did it. No big surprise: It’s not Lee Harvey Oswald. . . . Ever since Swagger’s first appearance in Point of Impact (1993), the author has provided his hero with antagonists worthy of the name. Meachum is a cut above the usual, not merely aristocratic, arrogant, powerful and resourceful, but unexpectedly humane, at times whimsical and sentimental and, for much of the book, surprisingly compassionate—especially when considering the enormity of his crime. In short, to modify the Tom Wolfe title, he is a villain in full.” (Dick Lochte New York Journal of Books)

“Stephen Hunter’s novel on the assassination of JFK is captivating, compelling, and thoroughly engrossing. The history has been painstakingly researched. The plot is classic Hunter: twisty, gritty, and fast-paced but tempered by the humanity of Bob Lee Swagger. In short, The Third Bullet is riveting storytelling for fans of fiction or non.” (Sandra Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Low Pressure)

“Hunter is at the top of the list when it comes to modern thriller writers.” (Breitbart.com)

About the Author

Stephen Hunter is the bestselling author of The Third Bullet, Dead Zero, Point of Impact, and many other novels. The retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, he has also published two collections of film criticism and a nonfiction work, American Gunfight.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After a couple of less-than-satisfying stories from Stephen Hunter, this intelligent re-telling of the JFK myth confirmed Stephen Hunter's outright ability to weave a gripping thriller. The Third Bullet re-establishes Bob Lee Swagger as a credible protagonist, the superior sniper, and a man of honour who is driven to risk his own safety once his higher motivation has been engaged.
It takes real skill to 're-imagine' such a famous event in a new light, yet Hunter manages to blend factual events into his fictional world so you can't possibly see the joins. He also brings a unique flavour to the Swagger novels, the smell of machine oil, the rasp and clunk of heavy weaponry, the subtlety of the long-distance shooter. Few writers can bring technical descriptions to chilling life with such authority - and succeed in making them an integral part of the plot.
Don't expect all-out fast-paced action-adventure. This is a psychological investigation; a battle of the mind between men who can't see each other, can't even be certain that their opponent even exists.
As such, it's a brilliant interpretation of the life of a sniper.
Great to see SH back on form...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hunter's finest novel in some time harks back thematically and dramatically to his early classic, 'Point of Impact', and ranks among the finest Kennedy assassination novels, such as DeLillo's 'Libra'. Not as action-packed as some Hunter tomes, but redolent with tension and the emotionally-laden pathos not seen since 'Black Light'.

Hunter is and remains the genius savant of intelligent action-thrillers - and a great writer to-boot.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's easy to buy Stephen Hunter's novels: he really knows how to write gripping action set pieces, presents strong characters, and usually manages well the difficult trick of getting us to suspend disbelief even as his heroes achieve extraordinary things. He knows his subject (the stories revolve around guns, and unlike most novelists he's obviously used them a lot and well) and rarely goofs the details, plus he has a loving and acute eye for history and sense of place. His books are rich and absorbing. I'd personally rate work like Hot Springs and Dirty White Boys as superb examples of the thriller/adventure writing art.

The Third Bullet starts with an interesting premise (the JFK assassination) that is very appropriate to the well-established Bob Lee Swagger character, and you know that Hunter will bring an imaginative, well-informed, thoughtful and perceptive eye to the affair. Which he does. The book is ingenious, and it's worth a read.

Yet unlike most of Hunter's previous work, I won't be re-reading this. There are a couple of reasons. First, the plot is simply too similar to that of a previous novel -- I won't say more for fear of spoilers, but let's say that what should be rewarding surprises are instead disappointing let-downs. Second, the action sequences are written as if Hunteris aware of this repetition) and cannot really be troubled to bring himself to compose the action with his trademark gifts of immersion, immediacy, visceral detail and rich atmosphere. Instead, he seems to be saying "Ho hum, you know what's gonna happen anyway, I'll just sketch it out".

Now Hunter is still damn good, and possibly this book will be more satisfying to a new reader than it has been to this old one, and the premise and resolution are still smart enough to deserve three stars.

But I think it may be time for Bob Lee to retire to his porch with a bottle of (non-alcoholic) Coke, and watch the sun go down over his horses.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think SH has lost his mojo. This is not the Bob Lee that we know. (or maybe it is a deliberate action on SH to make BLS more talkative as he grows older.) I preffered the antagonists (won't say who as it is a spoiler) part in this book more than I do BLS. I think SH should write a BLS novel in ho younger days. e.g. Vietnam or just after Vietnam.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This purports to be a Bob Lee Swagger story. Well, yes, occasionally he gets involved, but it's mostly a fictional rambling of a theoretical assassination. Pretty well written, but definitely not a Swagger.
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Format: Hardcover
I was only a child at the time of the Kennedy assassination but remember it well. I'm not a big reader of factual or conspiracy literature, so I approached this with an open mind as part of my exploration of the works of Stephen Hunter. Bob Lee Swagger is becoming a legendary character and although he isn't in this book a great deal it doesn't disappoint. I don't know a great deal about firearms and gun culture generally but find that the amount of factual information in this book isn't too much to take in and needs to be there to explain the assassination theory that Hunter has come up with. He said he avoided reading about the assassination while writing the book, so it is shaped around a ficitional incident which starts Bob off thinking in his own original way about how the deed could have been accomplished. None of the well known facts are distorted to fit the narrative and as always Bob delivers the goods. A great read and a real page turner.
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By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Jun. 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A shim is turned out in a gunsmith's shop on a lathe as an insert to take out the play between two parts of a system that were meant to fit tightly together but don't ... Did Oswald realize he needed a shim on his rifle? ... It's really pretty simple: No shim, no shot. And if Lee Harvey Oswald didn't make that (third) shot, it means someone else did. And that means someone got away with murder." - author Stephen Hunter from "The Shim's Tale" in THE THIRD BULLET

"... in all the years and against all investigation and attempts to comprehend, in all the theories, in the three-thousand-odd books by clowns of various mispersuasion, no one has ever come close to penetrating our small, tight, highly professional conspiracy. Until now." - Hugh Meachum, a key fictional character in THE THIRD BULLET

"Readers should be assured that I've made a good-faith effort to play fair by the data established in 'The Warren Commission Report' ... In my effort to construct a legitimate alternative narrative to the WC, I alter no known facts in order to make my argument tighter. I do reserve the novelist's right to reinterpret motive and reason." - author Stephen Hunter from "A Note on Method" in THE THIRD BULLET

Author Stephen Hunter is a "gun guy." In this Bob Lee Swagger thriller, Hunter has Swagger, the ultimate gun guy, focus on the third bullet fired during the JFK assassination in Dallas - the bullet that took off the top of the President's head. (See the slowed-down and enhanced Zapruder film on the Web to appreciate the violence of the hit.) It's Swagger's (i.e.
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