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Dead Zero by Stephen Hunter
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    Death of a thin-skinned animal by Patrick Alexander (alanteder)
    alanteder: In his afterword to Dead Zero, Stephen Hunter acknowledges his debt to author Patrick Alexander for the plot idea of a sniper going up against his own government's forces in order to carry out his mission, even when the political tides have turned on him.
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This book started out really well, but the ending was so incredibly stupid that I have to give it just a couple of stars. The book starts out with Ray Cruz, a Marine sniper who is tasked with having to assassinate an Afghan warlord named Ibrahim Zarzi. However, out in the Afghan wilderness, he and his spotter are jumped by mercenaries (American). His spotter is killed, he is wounded, but escapes. He tries to complete his mission, but a missile destroys the building he was going to use to do it on.

Fast forward in time. The FBI comes to one Bob Lee Swagger, the hero of Hunter's books up til now. Retired and an old former Marine sniper, they want his help in locating and stopping Cruz, because they've received a message from Cruz that he's going to somehow finish his mission, killing Zarzi in the US as he tours the country. He's changed his ways and is an American golden boy now, and we're promoting him for Afghan president. The problem is, the mercs are still after Cruz, and now they're after Swagger.

It's an action packed, fast paced mystery/thriller that is pretty exciting and even though it's not remotely believable, unlike Alex Berenson's novels, it's still a good ride. And then something happens. A few things.

I don't know how to write spoilers in these reviews, so I'm just going to write it here:

*** SPOILER ALERT***

Cruz turns out to be Swagger's son. Nice coincidence, that, don't you think? Now we can keep the book series alive, even as Swagger gets to be too old to continue. I didn't like that. Not at all. And I've read the next Cruz book and I hated it, so ... not thrilled.

The FBI finds out there's an emergency at the White House and they need a sniper. They call all of their snipers and find they've all gone home because they're tired out from what they just went through. So the FBI goes to the White House with Swagger and Cruz, who apparently aren't tired at all. But here's the thing -- doesn't the president have the ... Secret Service at all times? Wouldn't you think they'd have plenty of men around to terminate the threat? Wonder why Hunter didn't think of that....

Here's the kicker. Major spoiler. The ending is so damn stupid as to make the entire book useless. The bad guy did everything because he's pissed off at the West (and the US) for the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960 and what that has done to women. Yep. Women work now and earn just as much, if not more, than men. (Don't know where Hunter got that utterly false statistic.) Women should be barefoot and pregnant, apparently, and should know their place. The family unit is shrinking. Western society got along quite nicely for centuries with men in the lead and now, thanks to birth control, women are running wild. So Islam, with its misogynistic views, is our only hope. Yeah, I know. Can you believe that shit? That's the biggest pile of horseshit I've ever read. To think that an intelligent reading audience would buy that as the reason for taking down the US by a traitor is asinine. So I would give this book one star, but I'm giving it two because it was exciting, up til that point. Still, definitely not recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Oct 13, 2014 |
Substance: Enjoyed the action; good characterization; not for the faint of heart. Foul language on par for the genre and the characters.
What looked like far-fetched conspiracy fiction in 2010 seems much more plausible now (after the revelations about Benghazi, Fast & Furious, NSA whistleblowers, and IRS partisan chicanery).

Style: guilty of back-stitching, but otherwise okay. Retrospectively (after reading the jacket bio), it does read like a book by a film critic, but I was surprised the author was not former military - good research team? ( )
  librisissimo | Aug 22, 2013 |
Marine sniper, Ray Cruz, in Afghanistan fails his mission to assassinate a high level terrorist target known as the Beheader. Some years later Ray goes AWOL and rogue in order to complete his mission against the same terrorist target who is now an honored guess in the U.S. having become an important American asset to win the peace in the Middle East. Begins well but drags on a bit. There is quite a bit of cursing and sexual lewdness that lends nothing to the story. Seems like author was trying to hard to make it a macho style novel not only with his crude descriptions of sexual lusts by the bad guys but also with the personalities built into the two main male characters, heroes Bob Swagger and Ray Cruz. Swagger and Cruz are described as so over-the -top, hard-core military heroes that any attempt to paint them as frail human beings failed to win me any reader appreciation. Novel reads more like someone bragging about what he had really never done; I can almost sense the author wishing he were a sniper like Swagger or Cruz rather than be attached to the characters themselves. It reads limore like a novel written to bring some excitement to an author's seemingly boring life than for the purpose of entertaining the reader.

The unnecessary pornographic language contained in this book turns me off. I won't buy any of his other books. ( )
1 vote atdCross | Dec 29, 2012 |
I found a pretty good story line with believable characters, though the ending, as has been mentioned before, was pretty weak. All in all it was a good read that I felt could have been better. ( )
  RSchiver | Mar 28, 2012 |
I love the bob lee swagger series and while this one was good its was thinner than normal on the sniping and a bit to close close to point of impact. ( )
  mpolino | Jan 30, 2011 |
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Epigraph
"Surely, God has cursed the disbelievers
And has prepared for them a Flaming Fire
Where they will abide forever."
-KORAN 72:23

1. Pull pin. Hold unit upright.
2. Aim at base of fire. Stand back.
3. Press trigger. Sweep side to side.

-COMMON FIRE EXTINGUISHER INSTRUCTIONS.
Dedication
For
Nick Ziolkowski
1982-2004
KIA, Iraq
"The Sniper from Boys Latin"

If there is any glory in war,
let it rest on a young man such as this.
First words
Consciousness came and went; the pain was constant.
Quotations
These in the day when heaven was falling, when earth's foundations fled, followed their mercenary calling, took their wages and are dead. (pg. 338, uncredited excerpt from A.E. Houseman's "Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries.")
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Book description
Who killed Whiskey 2-2?

And why won't it stay dead?

A marine sniper team on a mission in tribal territories on the Afghan-Pakistan border, Whiskey 2-2 is ambushed by professionals using the latest high-tech shooting gear. Badly wounded, the team's sole survivor, Gunnery Sergeant Ray Cruz, aka the Cruise Missile, is determined to finish his job. He almost succeeds when a mystery blast terminates his enterprise, leaving a thirty-foot crater where a building used to be--and where Sergeant Cruz was meant to be hiding.

Months pass. Ray's target, an Afghan warlord named Ibrahim Zarzi, sometimes called The Beheader, becomes an American asset in the region and beyond, beloved by State, the Administration, and the Agency. He arrives in Washington for consecration as Our Man in Kabul. But so does a mysterious radio transmission, in last year's code. It's from Whiskey 2-2.

MISSION WILL BE COMPLETED.

CONFIDENCE IS HIGH.

Is Ray Cruz back? Has he gone rogue, is he insane, or just insanely angry? Will he succeed, though his antagonists now include the CIA, the FBI, and the same crew of bad boys that nearly killed him in Zabol province? Not to mention Bob Lee Swagger and a beautiful CIA agent named Susan Okada who gives Swagger more than just a patriotic reason to take the case.

Swagger, the legendary hero of seven of Hunter's novels from Point of Impact to last year's bestselling I, Sniper, is recruited by the FBI to stop the Cruise Missile from reaching his target. The problem is that the more Swagger learns about what happened in Zabol, the more he questions the U.S. government's support of Zarzi and the more he identifies with Cruz as hunter instead of prey.
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Marine Corps master sniper Bob Lee Swagger travels to the remote deserts and caves of Afghanistan to track down a renegade Marine who is using extreme measures to complete a mission.

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