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1996 – Black Light

The second Bob Lee Swagger book, and last book published by Bantam. From the hardcover dustjacket:

Bob Lee Swagger has seen — and delivered — dozens of deaths. As a United States Marine sniper in Vietnam, his astonishing accuracy with a rifle earned him the nickname “Bob the Nailer;” twenty years later he was forced to kill again to unravel a brutal conspiracy. Now happily secluded with his wife and young daughter in the Arizona desert, Bob believes all the killing is behind him. Until a young writer, Russ Pewtie, arrives at his door with troubling questions about the past.Forty years earlier, Swagger’s father, a dedicated state trooper, was gunned down by two robbers in a sensational shoot-out just outside of Blue Eye, Arkansas. Faced with Russ’ persistence and a desire to make peace with a father he never really knew, Swagger decides to discover what really happened that night long ago in Arkansas. But as soon becomes clear, powerful people don’t want the truth uncovered — and Swagger must use all his combat skills and ruthless cunning to survive.

Like the infrared “black light” that exposes a sniper’s target in the dead of night, Swagger homes in on the shadowy figures desperate to keep the secret of his father’s murder buried. And with the relentless you-must-turn-the-page pace that is Stephen Hunter’s trademark, Black Light accelerates to its exhilarating climax — an explosion of gunfire that blasts open the secrets of two generations.

You can help support my volunteer website to chronicle Stephen Hunter’s writings by buying Master Sniper from You pay the same – but I get a small commission. Click the image at left to buy the paperback, and thanks for your support!

16 Responses to “1996 – Black Light”

  1. Wes Says:

    A must read if you want to understand the Swaggers. I truly enjoyed this novel and am thrilled to have it in my collection

  2. V M Barnett Says:

    I guess I’ve read more of Mr. Hunter than I thought. This one was a great read too!

  3. DC Says:

    The more I read by Hunter, the more I like his writing. While I’m a big fan of the type of protagonist he has created in Swagger, I have come to really appreciate the depth of emotions he includes in his books. This one has one of the greatest lines dealing with booze and whiskey memories and pain. This was a really top notch read.

  4. Todd Smith Says:

    A fantastic sequel to Point of Impact and Dirty White Boys. Hunter really pulls his charachters together in this one. This is an absolute must-read!

  5. Rick Haupt Says:

    I just re-read “Black Light” for the 5th time…a close 2nd to my favorite, “Point of Impact.” I have now begun to re-read the Swagger series yet again. I started “Pale Horse Coming” but took a break to read “I, Sniper”. I love Earl Swagger and always thought Stephen Hunter would write about Earl’s daddy, Charles.

  6. Susan Says:

    Since a good part of my family if from Fort Smith:
    It’s Garrison Avenue not Street
    It’s Midland Boulevard
    It’s Rogers Avenue and
    It’s Free Ferry Road
    Sad to see what some of those thoroughfares have become…

  7. Count Stagger Says:

    It’s been some time since I read this book, but I’m pretty sure that it’s where my Swagger/ Hunter addiction began. Poignant, exciting, funny, haunting and thrilling, a brilliant pairing of the Swaggers. It might be a bit pretentious to compare the way that the father and son interact over the years, separated, yet entwined, to the two Don Corleones in Godfather Part II, but Hunter manages to achieve such a chemistry.

    I just wish there could be a ‘Frequency’ type ending, where Bob Lee is able to send a message back through time and save poor Earl’s life.

  8. Jack Says:

    I can’t believe (spoiler alert) that Hunter would just kill of Frenchy Short with some offhanded remark about how he was tortured to death by some counterintelligence officer in the Cold War no siree. I think there has to be more to it than that and there has to be some Bob Lee justice attached to the situation. Meanwhile I eagerly await what is purportedly going to be Hunter’s last book. Maybe it’ll have some Frenchy in it? I can only hope.

  9. Terry McDaniel Says:

    Great book! I’m from right across the border from Arkansas, and have family buried near Mena. I glad Mr. Hunter finally explained why he used the name BlueEye instead of Mena. When he referred to the Taliblue Trail, I’m thinking, “What in the h… is he talking about?” For those of you not familiar with the area, the Talimena Trail runs from near Talihina, OK (hina is pronounced “hay-na”, not “hine-a, in spite of the spelling) to Mena, Arkansas) put this on your vacation list. It is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. As you make the drive, you should be able to picture in your head where the ambush took place. There actually is a long straight stretch between the state line and Queen Wilhemena Lodge.

  10. Joel Bergmann Says:

    Mr. Hunter,

    My attorneys advise me that I must, in fairness, advise you of the effect you have been having upon my existense, and the price they are quite insistent I should be attempting to exact from you.

    For reasons best left alone at this time – a concept I’m sure Bob Lee would understand, I can only say that I require eight hours of sleep,and a suitable period of R&R during the course of each day. Since my background is, and I’m afraid must, remain classified, the need for this rest is quite pressing.

    But after reading each of the volumes about Bob Lee and his adventures, his family, his relatives, his Old China Marine network, etc., I find myself so really wound up, that sleep,much less R&R becomes impossible!!!

    So either you have to find a way to get Bob Lee to take it easy, or offer sufficient Ativan (an anti-anxiety drug) with each new volume, that I can continue to consume your product!!!

    I’ve only read 15 of your Bob Lee novels so far, and my need for meds increases with each new tome.

    How about it sir, take it easy. Have a heart. I can’t sleep, can’t eat, left my girl, (she doesn’t understand). I find my self pining for a bud like Bob Lee, and they don’t make ‘em that way any longer…..

    I really would like to keep this matter friendly!

    Oh, and thanks a whole bunch for the books. Nobody does it better. Keep your sox dry, and long may it wave!

    Joel Bergmann
    Cromwell, CT

    1stLT/ Baker Co 3rd Btn – 27th INF Heavy – IICorps 1967 – 1969

  11. Lucinda McNary Says:

    I am reading Black Light. I believe this is the first book by Stephen Hunter I have read and I love it. In fact I can’t put it down. It has been keeping me up way to late at night. Very exciting writing and engrossing story. Plan to buy all of his books and read them.

  12. Josh Says:

    This is the book that introduced me to Bob the Nailer. Because of this book, it has been a long a fruitful relationship. I loved this book, it had me in a trance from the moment I picked it up and opened it. I worked at the airport at the time and I got in trouble, because I my crew worked the plane while I was inside the break room reading. Great book!!!!!

  13. Loren Says:

    I enjoy Mr. Hunters books immensely. But goodness, I was Airborne and the whole platoon didn’t use the Lords name in vain this much in a month! It really ruined the story for me.

  14. Bill Says:

    I’m 2/3 thru Black Light and loving every word. A real page-turner. However, I think I may have discovered a mistake in the manuscript. On Page 191, Sam Vincent goes to Davidson Fuller’s house with the Sheriff looking for Reggie. The year is 1955. Mr. Fuller looks our to see “four police cars, light bars flashing.” My research indicates that light bars didn’t come into use until the 1960′s and even then they were usually custom-made by the local agency. Prior to that, all police cars had “gumballs”!

  15. Ken Says:

    I’m in the process of reading black Light and just got to the part where Bob Lee is thinking about Nam and yelling for a “medic” for wounded Marines. The Marine Corps never had and never will have medics. The army has medics. The Marine Corp has “Corpsmen.” They are Navy medical personnel attached to the Marine Corps.

  16. Charlie Says:

    Point of Impact was the first Hunter book I read. A friend of mine mailed it to me.I really enjoyed it. I have read almost all of his books, and have enjoyed them all.

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