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  • Writer's pictureJohn Gibson


In Stephen Hunter's latest Bob Lee Swagger thriller "Targeted" Swagger is called before a Congressional Committee chaired by an arch enemy--a Congresswoman who wants to put Swagger in a small cell somewhere.

She wants to trick you, his lawyer buddy advises.

"She wants to trick you into telling the truth. 'Yeah I killed him, he needed killing, and when I saw the crime scene photos of his brains on the ceiling, I allowed myself a pat on the back.' That's what she wants."

"One problem," said Bob. "I'm guilty as hell."

Meanwhile, the committee chair, Congresswoman Charlotte Venable, ("Mother Death" as she is called behind her back) is having her own little fantasies about the end of someone she quietly despises, the toady New York Times correspondent interviewing her, softballing her for the quotes that will light up the Times' front page and railroad Swagger. In her estimation, the Times suck-up is, as Stalin said of American communists, a useful idiot.

"She thought: I wish Sergeant Swagger would put a bullet in your cream puff. She deeply enjoyed imagining the ker-splash such a development would entail. Splish, splash, splatter, the pitter-patter of little brain globs on the ceiling."

But she keeps her fantasy to herself. She feeds the wormy reporter scoops because he's helping her more than she's helping him: she's teeing up Swagger to go down.

Things don't go well for her. Mother Death is planning to expose the assassin sniper Swagger as a criminal killer, but at a critical moment terrorists storm the hearing room taking her and her noodle spine staff hostage. Along with Bob Lee Swagger.

The target--Swagger--is now the only person who can save Mother Death. What now?

The ending will leave you gasping.

Click to hear my interview with the author of the Bob Lee Swagger series Stephen Hunter:

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