Stephen Hunter is the popular thriller author of the bestselling Bob Lee Swagger series with this first book Point of Impact, which sparked the creation of the 2007 Shooter movie with Mark Wahlberg, and the following TV series featuring Ryan Phillippe in the main role. The TV series aired between 2016 and 2018 for 3 series. Currently, the book series includes 11 novels with Game of Snipers being published in 2019.
Here are the Stephen Hunter books in order for his internationally acclaimed series, along with his two other shorter series, one featuring Earl Swagger, Bob Lee’s father, and Ray Cruz, Bob Lee’s son.
New Stephen Hunter Books
Bob Lee Swagger Series
- Point of Impact, 1993
- Black Light, 1996
- Time to Hunt, 1998
- The 47th Samurai, 2007
- Night of Thunder, 2008
- I, Sniper, 2009
- Dead Zero, 2010
- The Third Bullet, 2013
- Sniper’s Honor, 2014
- G-Man, 2017
- Game of Snipers, 2019
Earl Swagger Series
Ray Cruz Series
Standalone Stephen Hunter Books
- The Master Sniper, 1980
- The Second Saladin, 1982
- The Spanish Gambit, 1985
- The Day Before Midnight, 1989
- Dirty White Boys, 1994
- American Gunfight, 2005, with John Bainbridge Jr (non-fiction)
- Now Playing at the Valencia, 2005 (non-fiction)
- Violent Screen, 2012 (non-fiction)
- Stephen Longacre’s Greatest Match, 2014 (short story)
- 24 Bibliomysteries: Citadel, 2015
- I, Ripper, 2015
Who Is Bob Lee Swagger?
Bob Lee Swagger (also called Bob the Nailer) is a former Vietnam sharpshooter, retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant who was born in 1946, the same year Stephen Hunter was also born. The son of Earl Swagger (who has his own books as well), he is the father of Ray Cruz, a son he only learned about in Dead Zero. At the beginning of the series, he is a reclusive gun aficionado living in the backwoods of Arkansas, a place he retreated to after his divorce from Susan following a bout of alcoholism.
In Point of Impact, he was persuaded by a military group operating in the shadows to help foil the assassination plans of the president. Through this story, he becomes the most hunted man in America since nobody believed that there was an attempt on a president, but many were quick to believe that the crazy Vietnam vet lost all his marbles.
He also has a daughter, Nikki Swagger, with his wife, Julie Fenn, who was before married to his spotter, Donny, before he died.
Each of the books in the series takes him to another assignment. After the presidential assassination attempt situation in Point of Impact, in Black Light, he unravels a conspiracy behind his father’s murder. In Time to Hunt, he finally manages to solve the circumstances around his spotter’s death.
In The 47th Samurai, Bob Lee goes to Japan to return to the rightful owner a sword left from his dad. What he finds in Japan, however, is yet another deadly conspiracy. In Night of Thunder, Swagger is trying to uncover who wants his daughter’s death, who tried to run her off the road. The story is set in NASCAR country.
In I, Sniper, he helps the FBI find out who murdered several prominent 1960s Vietnam war protesters. Dead Zero is the book where he first meets Ray Cruz, who will turn out to be his son. In The Third Bullet, Swagger works the case of the Kennedy assassination from a sniper’s point of view. In Sniper’s Honor, Bob Lee Swaggers works together with a journalist to learn what happened to the White Witch, a WWII female Russian sniper.
In G-Man, Swagger is already 71, and he tries to find out about his grandfather Charles Fitzgerald Swagger, a WWI veteran of both the Canadian and American armies. Game of Snipers, published in 2019, Bob Lee investigates the murder of a woman’s son. During his investigation, he meets a sniper as deadly as himself, and has to work together with various international organizations such as the Mossad, the FBI, and various other organizations, to track down the sniper and find out his next target.
Stephen Hunter Biography
The author Stephen Hunter was born as the eldest of four children in 1946, in Kansas City, Missouri, however, he grew up in Evanston suburbs in Illinois. Both parents were literate and well educated. His mother, Virginia Ricker Hunter, was a children’s books writer. His father, Charles Francis Hunter, was a Northwestern University speech professor teaching film and television, who was killed in 1975 by some male prostitutes who pushed him through the window of a third-floor Chicago apartment, as he was gay, something that his family only learned about after his death.
Charles used to be abusive to his family, so Stephen’s relationship with his dad was not the best. In an interview, he recounted that he used to draw pictures of guns from the very young age of 3-4. This was for him a way to think about defending himself from his dad.
At the age of 22, in 1968, Stephen Hunter graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism with a degree in journalism, and then he was drafted for the Army. He served in The Old Guard in Washington, D.C. for two years as an honor guard. During this time, he also wrote articles for the Pentagon News, a military newspaper.
Three years later, in 1971, he joined the Baltimore Sun, where he worked for the next ten years at the copy desk of the newspaper’s Sunday edition. In 1982 he started working as a film critic and reviewer, where he remained until in 1997 he moved to the Washington Post working in the same position after the Post contacted him when one of their film critics left. A year later, in 1988, Stephen Hunter won the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award in the criticism category. What’s even more important, in 2003 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
While still working for The Sun, in 1980, he wrote his debut novel The Master Sniper featuring a WWII Nazi hitman. Before starting the bestselling series that made him popular around the world, he wrote a few more standalone books, which also included the novelization of the 1985 movie, Target with Gene Hackman and Matt Dillon.
The author’s second (The Second Saladin) and third (The Spanish Gambit) standalone novels were quite off the mark, as they never really reached bestseller status. That’s when inspiration hit him to create something else, something that would bring him back from the obscurity he fell into after his first great debut novel. Thus the idea for Point of Impact was born.
In 1993, he wrote Point of Impact, the first Bob Lee Swagger book. When Esther Newberg, a prominent New York literary agent read Dirty White Boys, the author’s standalone novel, she was absolutely thrilled with the book. She was also the one to help Point of Impact become a movie titled Shooter in 2007, featuring Mark Wahlberg.
While the Swagger series was already popular, it became even more so after Shooter became a bit hit at the movies. People started to buy the other Swaggers books that were already out.
Even though Stephen Hunter still continues to write his Bob Lee Swagger series, some of his standalone novels are incredible as well. For example, his latest standalone thriller, I, Ripper, published in 2015 is a strong departure from his usual type of writing. As the reader might have guessed it is the story of Jack the Ripper, the (in)famous Whitechapel prostitute serial killer. The book makes readers go deep inside the killer’s mind as the author has ghostwritten entire passages of Jack’s dark and quite detailed diary. The book is quite violent, gory, with details that can be tough to stomach.
The Bob Lee Swagger creator has a few other passions as well, including writing reviews for movies, which is what he got the Pulitzer prize for once, following Roger Ebert, who also got a Pulitzer Prize for the same. Films have always been the author’s big love, something he enjoyed watching from the old times when he was going to the movies with his dad. In an interview, he acknowledged that he wanted to become a movie critic from the young age of 12, and this is exactly what he became.
Another of his main passion is firing his guns. His love for guns has been growing from the time he was a small child, and now he knows gun so well that they are incredibly accurately depicted in his Swagger novels as well. He is also a strong advocate of using extensive magazines in guns, especially for women and older people who don’t have the time or strength to train for more serious weapons. Currently, the author has an extensive collection of firearms, including some of the classics, the SIG SAUER, and a few others.
Guns feature extensively in the Stephen Hunter books, with the author’s knowledge about weapons brought into the story. For example, as the author knows how they feel in his hands, what their weights are, and how to shoot, all these were included in the Bob Lee Swagger novels.
This just an example of the author’s extensive description of firearms in the Bob Lee Swagger books (taken from Point of Impact)
…had a heavy varmint barrel which almost neutralized vibration when he fired, though Bob had since replaced the original barrel with a stainless steel one from Hart, which he’d then finished with Teflon so the whole piece had the appearance of old pewter. The barrel, action and even the screws were bedded in Devcon aluminum into a black fiberglas and Kevlar stock. The screws were torqued through aluminum pilars, tightened to sixty pounds.
Reading the Stephen Hunter books in order is recommended especially for the Bob Lee Swagger books. However, for the continuity’s sake, some readers prefer reading the series starting with the Earl Swagger books, followed by the Bob Lee Swagger novels, and then catching up to the second Ray Cruz novel, which features Swagger’s son.
Praise for the Stephen Hunter Books
Game of Snipers is a wonderfully written and plotted thriller that I could not put down! Bob Lee Swagger is a true American literary icon and Stephen Hunter somehow continues to bang out one action-packed masterpiece after the next. If you haven’t checked in with Bob Lee in awhile, read this book, and you’ll see that he’s still the man. (Mark Greaney for Game of Snipers)
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)
The Third Bullet is as riveting as it is ambitious. It’s Stephen Hunter’s best so far. (Michael Connelly on The Third Bullet)
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)
Nobody writes action better than Stephen Hunter and Black Light is one of his best. . . [The] action scenes play like a movie, the plot is intriguing and the writing is top-notch. (Phillip Margolin)
One of the best storytellers of his generation (San Francisco Examiner)
- Stephen Hunter Facebook page (he has no official website)
- Stephen Hunter winner of the Pulitzer Prize
- Author interview about guns and his books
- Interview with Recoilweb