Monday, February 9, 2009

Read: Night of Thunder by Stephen Hunter

Read: Night of Thunder by Stephen Hunter, 2008, 9781416565116.

Another Bob Lee Swagger novel. Swagger is getting older, is happy with his two daughters, and living in Idaho. Swagger's hair has gone pure gray and he has a limp from 47th Samurai but he is still smart and lethal.

Swagger's older daughter, Nikki Swagger, Girl Reporter, is working for a newspaper in Bristol, TN. Nikki works the cops and crime beat and gets run off a mountain road by the mysterious Sinnerman after a day spent investigating meth related crime. Sinnerman is a professional wheelman and killer. Sinnerman's specialty is running people off the road and causing the victims' car into violent rolls where they die from the severe whiplash. Nikki survives and Bob Lee worries the murder attempt may be related to something in Bob Lee's past.

Bob Lee goes to investigate and while retracing his daughter's steps starts getting followed by the Grumley Clan (bad guys) and people start dying. Bob Lee digs further and runs into more trouble. Brief appearance by Special Agent Memphis. Good gun stuff with a 6.8 Remington, 1911s, Sigs, etc. Much fun is made of the dressed in black, helicopter riding, local deputies who are called Tommy Tacticals.

This was good - I read it quick - but did not pack the punch of previous Bob Lee or Earl Swagger novels. I'm not sure what was missing for me. The bad guys were bad in this one but I don't think they got as much space here; some of them were just so Hunter could set-up them up and have Swagger knock them down. Hunter has done that before, of course. The main bad guys, the Grumley clan, may have made an appearance before in Hot Springs. I won't bother to look.

The ending was a bit of a stretch including both of the last two shoot-outs by Swagger on a hill and in a glade. The death of Sinnerman is caused by a minor character and does not have much of a believable set-up; the final ending felt a bit forced but was satisfying.

Later EDIT: No one recognizes or knows Swagger, even the cops. The events from Point of Impact were less than twenty years ago. There was a nationwide manhunt for Swagger in that novel. he was hunted by every cop everywhere and in a high public court hearing at the end. How are all those people not going to recognize him as he tries to pass himself off as an old, harmless guy?

Second later EDIT: This one and 47th Samurai were made into stories after events that inspired Hunter. Next time he gets inspired he should skip the Swagger characters and come up with a new character. It feels like Hunter got an idea he wanted to write about and then tried to shoehorn his regulars into the story.

No comments: