Black Light
By Stephen Hunter

(Buy from Amazon.com)

< 1999
By Condor

Hunter brings back Bob Lee Swagger in this 1996 sequel to Point of Impact. As one would expect, the plot is fast paced, twisted with snaking turns, and full of mild surprises. There is less sniper lore than found in "Impact," but what is there will satisfy the military-history buffs among you. The term "black light" is very appropriate to the plot and you will enjoy Hunter's short look into the genesis of nocturnal warfare. The story is more a police investigation thriller than a full blown sniping extravaganza like Point of Impact. Don't let that statement fool you... there is enough "plinking" to keep your interest.

The one thing I have always liked about Hunter's work is that it has a certain subliminal familiarity... a sense knowing where the plot is going, only to be surprised by a sudden twist. While I felt I knew where the next turn would go, and felt confident of the outcome, I was always happily surprised by the actual events as they unfolded. If you are a self proclaimed "book sleuth," you'll never be left behind, but you will enjoy the trip just the same.

Hunter masterfully weaves the past and the present into an artful tapestry that leaves you looking impatiently for the next trip in time. The novel actually contains two separate but intertwined stories and Hunter is successful in making you care about both, past and present. The characters are solid. They're real. You've met them in life. Some of them you'd just as soon forget. He brings them successfully to life... or death.

The book contains only two small errors and neither of them has anything to do with weaponry. I'll just say this - not all pilots file flight plans. For most local flights, none are required and none are made. That's important to the plot. The other error, I'll leave for you to find. It's near the end. You've got to be paying close attention to get it. The plot rides on it. Bet you can't discover it!

In summation, I would say that with the increasing cost of paper entertainment, and in the face of the ever diminishing amounts of free time, this book is worth the reader's expenditures. A rather successful author once wrote "it is a sin to waste the reader's time." Stephen Hunter certainly does NOT.



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