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Stephen Hunter has moved around the Swagger family in time, going from son Bob Lee to father Earl. Now, with G-Man (May., Blue Rider hc, $27), Hunter fills in another layer of the family with a story of Charles, father to Earl and grandfather to Bob - a mystery to Bob as Earl never talked about him and though he was a power in Polk County, AR, where the Swaggers hail from, he left little imprint behind. The book opens with a metal case being unearthed that leads Bob to investigate what happened with Charles in 1934 and provides us with a two-lane story of now and then.
If you know American history a bit you’ll recognize that 1934 puts half of the story in the years of bank robbers and tommyguns - Dillinger’s gang and a man born Lester Gillis, known to us as Baby Face Nelson. The artifacts in the metal case show Charles involved with the hunt for the public enemies but there’s no official record of Charles having been part of it. Why? That’s the story. We learn about Charles and watch him on the hunt just as Bob does and that’s the fun of it. Betrayal, gun smoke, firefights, fast cars and muzzle flashes. All of the characters, heroes and villains, live in a different world, all understanding and accepting the risks.
“This block of small Indiana city on a sunny Saturday morning rotated past the right-side windows as Homer circled, yielding visions of American life that had no meaning to the car’s occupants, its orderliness, its optimism, its regularity and consensus. What drove them collectively was not merely greed to have what wasn’t theirs but the need to be the outlaw, that figure who played by no rules, who was big by his own definition, who dared to flamboyantly grab, and though knowing doom was sure, would revel in reputation and respect until the last cop bullet found its mark and dumped each into the gutter to bleed out, waiting for an ambulance that nobody remembered to call.”
The Swaggers are a family of steely heroes, capable of navigating whatever comes what may even as they grapple with their own flaws and demons. That’s what makes them so damn interesting and fun to follow.
He’s an interesting fellow, having won the Pulitzer Prize as a Baltimore Sun film critic, in addition to writing a shelf of thrillers. Come in and say hello and pick up a signed copy of his new Swagger saga.— JB
From bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Hunter, the latest episode in the Bob Lee Swagger saga, which finds Bob uncovering his family's secret tommy gun war with 1930s gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.
Ryan Philippe currently stars as Bob Lee Swagger on the hit USA Network series Shooter.
1934. The depths of the Depression were marked by an epidemic of bank robberies and the swashbuckling, Tommy-gun-toting outlaws who became household names. John Dillinger. Bonnie and Clyde. Pretty Boy Floyd. Hunting them down was the new U.S. Division of Investigation--soon to become the FBI--which was determined to nab the most dangerous gangster this country has ever produced, a man so violent he scared Al Capone and was booted from the Chicago Mob--Lester Gillis, better known as Baby Face Nelson. To stop him, the Bureau recruited the most talented gunman of the time--Charles Swagger, World War I hero and sheriff of Polk County, Arkansas.
Eighty years later, Charles's grandson Bob Lee Swagger has finally decided to sell the family homestead, but when the developers begin to tear down the house, they uncover a strongbox hidden in the foundation. Enclosed is an array of memorabilia dating back to 1934--a much-corroded federal lawman's badge, a .45 automatic preserved in cosmoline, a mysterious gun part, and a cryptic diagram--all belonging to Charles Swagger. Fascinated and puzzled by these newly discovered artifacts, Bob is determined to find out what happened to his grandfather, who died before Bob was born, and why his own father, whom he worshipped, never spoke of Charles. But as he investigates further, Bob learns that someone is following him, that someone is sharing his obsession with finding out what Charles Swagger really left behind.
Alternating between Bob's present-day search to uncover his grandfather's legacy and Charles's relentless pursuit for the nation's most notorious outlaw in the Midwest of the 1930s, G-Man is a thrilling, action-packed addition to Stephen Hunter's bestselling Bob Lee Swagger series.
About the Author
Stephen Hunter is the author of more than twenty novels. The retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, he has also published two collections of film criticism and a nonfiction work, American Gunfight. His novel, Point of Impact, was adapted for film as Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.