“Stephen Hunter’s brilliantly realized action tale Dead Zero sets a sniper to catch a sniper. And it should come as no surprise that the sniper doing the catching is none other than Hunter's seminal series hero Bob Lee Swagger. . . . Once again Swagger hits the bull’s-eye and so does Hunter. Master of the modern gunfighter tale, he isn't just the best action writer of this generation, but the best of any.”—The Providence Journal
“It's probably no accident that the hero of Stephen Hunter's Dead Zero is named Bob Lee Swagger. Few authors, of any genre, write with as much swagger and verve as film-critic-turned-thriller-bestseller Hunter. . . . As expected, Hunter once again writes with a brutal beauty.”—Ft. Worth Star Telegram
“Reading a Bob Lee Swagger novel is like visiting your favorite uncle, the one with the mysterious limp, the locked gun safe, and whose wild tales are often truncated by your concerned parents…It's a complicated story with the usual twists and spinouts and double-crosses, but what lifts it above the fray is its smarts and its broad cast of decently drawn characters.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Hunter, 64, is the longtime (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) film critic for The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, and the Swaggers—Bob and his father, Earl—are his most memorable creations. . . . As the latest adventure opens, Ray Cruz—a much younger and equally gifted Marine sniper—is tracking Ibrahim Zarzi, a corrupt Afghan politician nicknamed "The Beheader" . . . Armed with his SR-25, Cruz is inventive, charismatic and, in short, everything Bob the Nailer used to be. Dead Zero is at its best when Hunter has Cruz in the novel's crosshairs.” . . . I can only hope it's the novel that finally convinces Hunter to flesh out the history of a new sniper and allow Bob the Nailer the retirement he so richly deserves.”—The Oregonian
“Despite overwhelming critical acclaim for his seven-book Bob Lee Swagger series, Stephen Hunter and his novels seem to stay under the general readership radar. . . . The books are so well-crafted and expertly written that it's easy to forget they're adventure-thrillers.”—Sacramento Bee
“Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger is getting to be almost as popular as James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux or Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. This ‘old coot,’ as Swagger calls himself, has a staying power that won't quit. . . . Bob Lee Swagger and his marine hero dad Earl are super soldiers in the world of fiction. . . . In Dead Zero, Swagger uncharacteristically hunts with the pack. And he doesn't like it one bit. There's a marine sniper out there who just won't die. He mirrors Swagger in his talent and intensity. His name is Ray Cruz . . . Dead Zero is packed with Hunter's patented action sequences, great character studies and sinister villains working on their doctorate in Power. Here's hoping we see more of the unstoppable Ray Cruz. He'd make a fitting successor in Hunter's army elite.”—Madison County Herald.com
"The only book better than a new Jack Reacher novel is a new Bob Lee Swagger adventure. Dead Zero, with a dynamite plot and riveting characters, is everything any action fan could want as Swagger, now hitting Senior Citizenhood, pits his wits against a man who could be a younger version of himself."—Toronto Globe and Mail
“[A] juicy premise, which Hunter admits adapting from Patrick Alexander’s 1977 Death of a Thin-Skinned Animal; transformed to a contemporary setting, it evokes the government-treachery themes of ‘24’ but does so with less cartoony derring-do and a considerably more nuanced exploration of the psychology of the soldier. . . . A top-notch thriller.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Stellar . . . Solid characterization complements the tight, fast-moving plot.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In Hunter’s latest, Bob Lee Swagger stalks Bob Lee Swagger. Well, just about. If anyone could be more valorous, more skilled and resourceful, more uncompromisingly upright, and at the same time more downright deadly than Bob Lee Swagger, it would have to be Gunnery Sergeant Ray Cruz. . . . [An] intricate, interchanging game of predator to prey and prey to predator.”—Kirkus Reviews
Master sniper Bob Lee Swagger (I, Sniper) is back for yet another mission, proving that while older, he is no less clever and potentially deadly. In Afghanistan, the assassination of a terrorist goes wrong, and one marine survivor, Ray Cruz, decides to complete the mission and kill the man known as the "Beheader." There's a problem, though: now the terrorist has become a U.S. ally and a darling of the administration. Thus, our government wants Cruz stopped and recruits Swagger to do the job. But he soon suspects that all is not as it seems to be and that others want Cruz dead as well. As usual, Hunter's latest thriller contains more twists, turns, and surprises than a bad country road.Verdict Like good Scotch, Swagger ages marvelously and, in a similar way, even seems to mellow. Swagger is now 64, and even he wonders just how long he can continue his heroics. Recommended for readers who enjoy a lot of satisfying action, adventure, violence, and an extremely engaging hero. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/10.]—Robert Conroy, Warren, MI
In Hunter's latest (I, Sniper, 2009, etc.), Bob Lee Swagger stalks Bob Lee Swagger. Well, just about,
If anyone could be more valorous, more skilled and resourceful, more uncompromisingly upright, and at the same time more downright deadly than Bob Lee Swagger, it would have to be Gunnery Sergeant Ray Cruz. As it is, the men are mirror images of each other, both U.S. Marine templates—super snipers, hands that have never known a tremor, iron-nerved and killer-eyed. When they meet it almost goes without saying that they will admire and respect each other enormously, but it's a meeting that will happen under desperate circumstances. Cruz has had a task assigned to him that Swagger is charged with interrupting at all costs. Cruz, nicknamed "the Cruz Missile" to suggest his devotion to getting the job done, has been ordered to take out a certain Ibrahim Zarzi, nicknamed "the Beheader," for reasons that have made him hated and feared up and down the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Suddenly, however, Zarzi seems to undergo an epiphany, which transforms him from a malodorous jihadist into a sweet-smelling American asset, a sea change with an obvious effect on Cruz's mission. Except that Cruz, who has suffered and survived much during his pursuit of the Beheader, doesn't buy the varnished version and refuses to back off. Nothing to be done, then, it's decided in the inscrutable, impenetrable corridors of power, but to haul the 64-year-old Swagger out of retirement and set a super sniper to catch a super sniper. And so the intricate, interchanging game of predator to prey and prey to predator is lethally afoot.
A premise that had a chance to be compelling is diffused by a momentum-killing willingness to digress. Hunter has done much better.