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Night of Thunder: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel Mass Market Paperback – September 29, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Near the start of Hunter's cartoonish fifth Bob Lee Swagger thriller (after The 47th Samurai), Nikki Swagger, the series hero's journalist daughter, is seriously injured when a hit man runs her car off the road in Tennessee hill country. Despite Swagger's fears that the legion of enemies he's made over the years are responsible for the attack, the former marine leaves Nikki vulnerable to another attempt on her life in the hospital where she's being treated—an attempt foiled only by chance in the nick of time. Such plot-driven implausibilities are rampant as Swagger investigates his daughter's recent assignments, which lead him to drug-running along the Tennessee-Virginia border and to a NASCAR event. At the violence-filled conclusion, one of the supporting characters, in keeping with the book's overall arms-length relationship with realism, says, In some perverted way, I think everybody who didn't die or lose their business kind of enjoyed it. Hunter fans may feel similarly. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Bob Lee Swagger is back, but he’s hurting. That last scrape he got into with the samurai (The 47th Samurai, 2007) left him with bum legs, nightmares, and white hair. But it’s no country for old men when Bob’s daughter, Nikki, now an investigative reporter in Tennessee, is nearly killed by a psycho called Sinnerman, whose weapon of choice is his car. Hunter’s premise this time encompasses not only the inevitable showdown between Bob and a purely evil adversary (think Gary Busey as Sinnerman), but also the wacky world of NASCAR. It’s race week in Bristol, Tennessee, and as Bob attempts to figure out who attacked Nikki, he smells a plot afoot to disrupt the event. All the story lines come together around a degenerate evangelist who doubles as the patriarch of a legendary redneck crime family, the Grumleys (a wildly bent version of Grandpappy Amos and the Real McCoys). Hunter comes close to going over the top this time (the inevitable cataclysm at the NASCAR event is a pyrotechnical extravaganza as campy as it is violent), but he grounds the craziness with his characteristically precise prose, detailing not only the firepower used by Bob and his adversaries but also the cars they drive. NASCAR fans are sure to have a high old time with this novel, and if longtime Swagger followers feel a bit uncomfortable with the cartoony element here, there are more than enough signature Bob Lee moments—a hard man forced to be hard—to keep their blood roiling. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Bob Lee Swagger
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Reprint edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416565140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416565147
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Hunter won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism as well as the 1998 American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for Distinguished Writing in Criticism for his work as film critic at The Washington Post. He is the author of several bestselling novels, including Time to Hunt, Black Light, Point of Impact, and the New York Times bestsellers Havana, Pale Horse Coming, and Hot Springs. He lives in Baltimore.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hunter has long been one of my favorite writers but he is sorely trying my patience after his last two releases. His first book or two, back in the eighties, I'm thinking The Master Sniper, were OK, but then he wrote the first Bob Lee Swagger book, Point of Impact, and it, and everything that came after until 47th Samurai, was six star genius. In fact, Stephen Hunter became my favorite writer, even edging out James Lee Burke, and Hunter's novels Dirty White Boys and Pale Horse Coming are two of my favorite books ever. I bought half a dozen copies of Pale Horse Coming so I could give them as treasured presents to my brothers and friends. Then came 47th Samurai, a ridiculous excuse for a book in many ways, and ruined what had been a run of stupefyingly good books for many years. I'll forgive an author, particularly Hunter, for a bad book once, but with the release of Night of Thunder, I have to say I am officially ticked off and offended.

This book would have been a three star book if it had been written by a new author, but for a talented veteran like Hunter, this is one or two star fare at best and I can't help but feel betrayed. Why are so many good writers releasing such sub-par books in the last two years? Where is the pride one should have in accomplishment?
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Format: Hardcover
I'd like a refund for this book as well as the 47th Samurai. Never again will I read a Stephen Hunter novel and at one time, he was my favorite author. I've read everything that he has published and unfortunately, his work of late has been very disappointing. He has done a great disservice to both his fans and the great Bob Lee Swagger.

Night of Thunder had more holes in it than a Bob Lee target at 50 feet. The plot had potential with a gang of mountain men trying to kill Nikki, Bob Lee's daughter. However, the characters were just plain boring and the dialog was senseless. The local Sheriff was a retired Army Ranger Colonel. The hillbilly gang was from Polk County and Hot Springs, Arkansas. The detective was a champion marksman. How would they have not heard of the Swaggers? References to NASCAR and the Bristol motor speedway were just plain wrong.

I'm sure it took me longer to get through it than it did for Mr. Hunter to write it.
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Format: Hardcover
Being an avid Stephen Hunter fan since reading Point of Impact, I found the caricature that is Bob Lee to be a fascinating and welcome resurgence to the long forgotten "real man's" hero.

Since Hunter missed the mark on the last few books--namely The 47th Samurai--I have been waiting for Hunter to return to his forte, namely the ability to write a tightly woven story intertwined with realistic gun fights. To my surprise Night of Thunder attempts to bring back Bob Lee and all his skills to once again amaze the reader.

I don't want to waste your time going over the story but I will address a few points that stopped me from giving this book a better rating.

1) It is very difficult to not compare Hunter's latest books against his 2 pinnacles of achievement: Dirty White Boys, and Point of Impact. Each of those novels contained an excellent story, properly edited, and allowed you to fall in love with the protagonist and antagonist. It just seems that Hunter hasn't been able to achieve that kind of storytelling in his latest books.

2) While Bob Lee has returned in this novel, I felt separated from who he is and what he has become. The author has left holes in the story that the readers are supposed to fill in with what we know of Bob Swagger. I think Hunter needs to return to the basics and write about Bob Lee so anyone can pick up the book with as little confusion as possible and read on.

3) The plot of this book seems a little childish, and the enemies as well as the people Bob bumps into along the way are nothing more than mere words on a page. I do not connect with any of them, and I certainly feel they could have been better written (those of you who have read Dirty White Boys know what I am talking about).
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Format: Hardcover
After the decidedly lackluster 47th Samurai, in which Swagger becomes a world-class samurai swordsman in a week, it's nice to see a return to the series' strength--the feral instincts on familiar turf. This does have a few flaws, but we're back to the satisfying territory of most of Hunter's previous Bob Swagger novels. The story takes place in East Tennessee, in the Tri-Cities area of Northeast Tennessee, and in Knoxville. The main plotlines center around meth labs (certainly a popular activity in this part of the country) and NASCAR racing at Bristol (also popular). The evil Brother Richard, a supremely skilled driver, tries to kill Swagger's daughter Nikki by running her off the road. Nikki works for a Bristol newspaper, and is investigating meth labs: the accident puts her into a coma, and this brings in Bob Swagger, suspicious and wary as ever that perhaps the target was actually him.

Brother Richard has been working with a remarkably unpleasant gang under the leadership (and parentage) of the Reverend Alton Grumley. Grumley has fathered all (or almost all) of the Grumley clan: some he has fathered on his own daughters, and few, if any, of the clan are able to trace family ties with any kind of confidence. So we soon have Swagger bumping into Grumleys. The local law enforcement is convinced the "accident" was a local kid showing off, and has more important things to do--namely worrying about NASCAR crowds--and Swagger is, politely at first, told to go back home and let the local law take care of things, which advice Swagger, of course, doesn't heed. You can pretty much take it from there: Swagger's feral instincts and skills put to use against the bad guys. Lots of action, good writing, the traditional Hunter strengths.

There are a few flaws--nothing major.
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