I’m hesitant to write this, because the author of the Bob Lee Swagger novels once showed up on the comments section of this blog, and while I really enjoyed many of his books, I’ve got nothing nice to say about his latest.
The last Swagger novel was set in Japan and featured nothing but sword fighting, which is like writing a book about the Hulk only setting it in a peaceful place where no one ever bothers Bruce Banner. The whole value of the Swagger novels is the exciting gunplay & the hardboiled action. I never finished one of them & wished it had featured more Japanese history lessons.
In an afterward to the book, Stephen Hunter confessed that he essentially wrote a modern day samurai novel & then in order to sell copies of it he retrofit it to include Bob Lee Swagger, the popular character from his other bestsellers. To say that the Swagger story felt shoehorned in would be an understatement. The 47th Samurai was a huge disappointment.
In his latest book, Swagger has returned to the U.S., and presumably to his gunshooting ways. But in a giant fuck you to his readers, Hunter has set the book at a NASCAR rally. I’d go into details as to why I won’t be buying this, but I think the Amazon publisher’s blurb says it best:
Talk about a ride!
Woe unto he who crosses Bob Lee Swagger, especially when his daughter’s life is at stake. Forced off the road and into a crash that leaves her in a coma, clinging to life, reporter Nikki Swagger had begun to peel back the onion of a Southernfried conspiracy bubbling with all the angst, resentment, and dysfunction that Dixie gangsters can muster. An ancient, violent crime clan, a possibly corrupt law enforcement structure, gunmen of all stripes and shapes, and deranged evangelicals rear their ugly heads and will live to rue the day they targeted the wrong man’s daughter. It’s what you call your big-time bad career move. All of it is set against the backdrop of excitement and insanity that only a weeklong NASCAR event can bring to the backwoods of a town as seemingly sleepy as Bristol, Tennessee.
Once again I say: Fuck. This. Book.