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The Third Bullet (Bob Lee Swagger #8)

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,805 Ratings  ·  386 Reviews
Bob Lee Swagger is back in a thriller fifty years in the making . . . It’s not even a clue. It’s a whisper, a trace, a ghost echo, drifting down through the decades via chance connections so fragile that they would disintegrate in the puff of a breath. But it’s enough to get legendary former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger interested in the events of November 22, 1963, and t ...more
Hardcover, 477 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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11/22/63 by Stephen KingSave JFK by Armando PazosSurrounded by Enemies by Bryce ZabelCamelot's Cousin by David R. StokesThe Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter
Kennedy Assassination Fiction
5th out of 6 books — 4 voters
The Coalition by Samuel MarquisThe Fellowship by William TyreeLast Hit by Jessica ClareSky Ghosts by Alexandra EngellmannJAMES 516 by B.J. Bourg
Assassination Thrillers
26th out of 28 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mar 20, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
The tale sets creaky ex-military sniper and former Arkansas sheriff Bob Lee Swagger on a path to solve the Kennedy assassination. This thriller was a lot of fun coming on the heels of reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63, both seemingly timed for the expected revival of public interest as the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death.

A businessman has been killed in a suspicious hit and run accident and his wife suspects it might have something to do with his conspiracy theory hobby, which was stimulated by le
Jonathan Tomes
Jan 26, 2013 Jonathan Tomes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
The 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination has brought out a number of fiction and nonfiction books about his murder. I’ve reviewed two: Steven King’s 11/22/63 and Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln (the latter being nonfiction). I rated both of them very highly. But Stephen Hunter’s The Third Bullet may just take the cake. His novel presents an extremely well researched and plausible theory that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone and, in fact, did not fire the fatal bullet. Hunter ...more
Mar 06, 2013 Brian rated it liked it
While I still think Hunter's first book, "Point of Impact," is one of the best "action-thriller" books and a must read for anyone interested in the genre, I was a bit disappointed in "The Third Bullet." I found the pacing, especially in the middle when Hunter changes point-of-view between characters, a bit tedious. One of the things I loved about "Point of Impact," was what disappointed me most about "Third Bullet;" the pacing. Hunter really bogs down on the details of the JFK assassination. Whi ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it

I have never read an in-depth account of the JFK assassination or watched any shows/documentaries/wacko Oliver Stone movies/etc. Generally, I agree with our protagonist, former Marine sniper, Bob Lee Swagger on the topic (view spoiler) But I have to give Mr. Hunter 4 Stars for providing a highly readable account of the event in The Third Bullet and a plausible alternative to the one-man/one gun accepted theory.
Paul Pessolano
Dec 18, 2012 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
“The Third Bullet” by Stephen Hunter, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Mystery/Thriller

This is another Bob Lee Swagger novel written by Stephen Hunter. If you familiar with this series you will probably go and pick up the book without reading any reviews. If you are not familiar with Bob Lee this would be a good time to get acquainted.

Over the last fifty years there have been many conspiracy theories concerning the assassination of JFK. Stephen Hunter comes up with yet another one but
Feb 04, 2013 Kevin rated it it was ok
Right off the bat - I was very excited for this book - another Bob Lee Swagger book can only be a good thing.. right?

Unfortunately - I had a real hard time finishing this book - Bob Lee is the main character, but could have easily been replaced by ANYONE - there was nothing overly Swagger'ish about this Swagger book. More like it seemed like it was a book with Swagger used as the main character just to shift more copies.

This was disappointing in itself, but made even more so by the disjointed wr
Mar 30, 2013 Bill rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
I have been a big fan of Hunter's for years and have enjoyed the Swagger books, (both father and son) but I have to say I was very disappointed by this book. Long, drawn out, and way too enamored with the details of ballistics, The Third Bullet was a slog. I kept going, waiting for something more unique and interesting (other than Hunter's JKF theory, which is revealed early on in the book and is basically the same plot he used in the first Swagger book - a fact acknowledged both in the novel an ...more
Jan 26, 2013 Paul rated it liked it
I generally enjoy Stephen Hunter's writing, and I think Bob Lee Swagger is one of the most entertaining, richest characters in current thriller fiction. The problem: there's too much Hunter and not enough Swagger in this book. Long stretches are dedicated to exposition by characters who are, essentially, elderly blowhards. Several of the major characters' diction and dialog are indistinguishable: Nick Memphis talks just like Swagger; three other characters, whom I can't name because SPOILERS, ha ...more
Jan 24, 2013 DR rated it really liked it
These thrillers by the now-retired Washington Post film critic are definitely a guilty pleasure. Bob Lee and his late daddy, Gunnery Sergeant Earl Swagger, are two of my favorite novelistic “action” heroes—right up there with Travis McGee and Spenser and Richard Sharpe.

Just in time for the 50th Anniversary, this one grazes rather than fatally wounds the convoluted, paranoid world of JFK Assassination conspiracy theory. As you would expect from a “gun guy” like Hunter, he tries out some new appro
Nov 20, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
The Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter

Bob Lee Swagger is up to his neck in espionage and life threatening danger as he investigates the death of a man in Baltimore by hit-and-run. Information results in the man just returning from Dallas asking pointed questions concerning the JFK assassination. Swagger chooses the same path to see where it will lead and finds himself inquiring systematically the true magic of bullet number three involved in the assassination. Designed to penetrate, not fly apart, S
Rob Wood
Ah, here we go again. I recently became acquainted with Hunter from reading "Point of Impact" Terrific book, I really enjoyed it. So I was excited to read another book with the great Bob Lee Swagger. As I began the book, I thought to myself this is great, here we go again. Swagger is an old man now, but he's a crazy old coot. I'm genuinely digging it. This story has some familiarization from PoI. The mood is similar, the characters the same, the plot... the SAME. And then it dawns on me. Wait a ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I put this on the "Thriller" shelf as well as my historical fiction shelf. It is and it isn't. Hunter is a good writer and this is also a good book. We've picked up Bob Lee's story here and (like your reviewer) he's getting a bit...long in the tooth. Vietnam was 50 years ago, ended in '73 ('75 actually) which is 40 years ago.

Here the story takes up some well trod ground, the Kennedy assassination. Like so many others Bob get's involved in figuring out the conspiracy.

Hunter does a good job of la
Mar 18, 2014 Meg rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
This book had a promising start and I really enjoyed the first third and the review of the factual events on 22 November 1963. However when the story veered into Russian espionage and secret agent fantasy I could not sustain interest.
Jon Kurtz
Sep 15, 2015 Jon Kurtz rated it liked it
A few years back, I became a fan of Stephen Hunter after discovering The 47th Samurai. Since then, I have read four more of his works and have always been pleased with his ability to weave a fast paced, interesting story around guns and weapons. The Third Bullet is an exception to Hunter's normal writing. I found it to be drawn out and disjointed. While the main character, Bob Lee Swagger, is involved, he takes a backseat to a mysterious figure who is writing a memoir describing how he mastermin ...more
Greg Stillwagon
Jan 18, 2015 Greg Stillwagon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hunter
Hunter is always outstanding -- and Bob Lee is incredible.
A "lousy" book by Hunter would rate a 4.5, this one's a 5.0. His writing is so good, it meets my LOFTY expectations every time. Thanks to Stephen Hunter for continuing to be my all time favorite author. This one is right up there -- tied with many of his for first!!
Feb 11, 2013 Bill rated it it was ok
I am torn between two and three stars, while this is the worst Bob Lee book I can remember reading, it was still Bob Lee. I just wanted Hugh to shut it and Bob to get to the killing.
Sep 15, 2014 Dtt rated it really liked it
A present-day hit-and-run homicide draws Bob Lee Swagger -- retired marine sniper and all-around troubleshooter extraordinaire -- into the maze of circumstances, coincidences, and conspiracy theories that is the JFK assassination.

Author Stephen Hunter has clearly done his research on the subject, and nimbly navigates around the multitude of theories, books, and reports (most notably the Warren Commission findings). From a personal standpoint, I have to say that I have never been particularly fas
Mar 21, 2013 Annie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed (believe?) the theory that Hunter brought alive in this book.
From book jacket, because I couldn't describe it any better:
Bob Lee Swagger is back in a thriller fifty years in the making . . . It’s not even a clue. It’s a whisper, a trace, a ghost echo, drifting down through the decades via chance connections so fragile that they would disintegrate in the puff of a breath. But it’s enough to get legendary former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger interested in the events of November 22
Alain Burrese
Mar 14, 2013 Alain Burrese rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger novels for some time now, and I enjoyed “The Third Bullet.” While there is not as much action in this adventure as in earlier books, I like the thinking Bob Lee Swagger too. Maybe it is because I'm getting older too.

The author uses several techniques that I found clever and liked. From using himself as a minor character to developing a JFC conspiracy that falls in line with what we know about the actual killing of President Kennedy and the earliest B
Skip Maloney
Feb 11, 2013 Skip Maloney rated it it was amazing
As the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination approaches, we are likely to be inundated with material that's been compiled from a variety of sources over those 50 years; conspiracy theories, re-examinations of the published reports, and endless speculation about 'what really happened.' Stephen Hunter, in his Acknowledgements at the end of The Third Bullet, notes that at one time, he considered writing a JFK, 'what really happened' novel, and created his recurring character, Bob Lee Swagger, a ...more
Aug 02, 2013 David rated it really liked it
I've loved Stephen Hunter's books ever since I picked up the first Bob Lee Swagger book, Point Of Impact. I went back and read the books he'd written up to that point and then have continued to read his new offerings since. The Third Bullet has a lot in common with Point of Impact beyond many repeating characters. Both deal with framing people as assassins, but in The Third Bullet the framed assassin is Lee Harvey Oswald. Not that Oswald is an innocent; he just doesn't have the skills or tempera ...more
Dec 28, 2013 Alexa rated it liked it
An odd book, but not a bad one. The prose is straight-up bizarre. It's like getting hit on the head with a hammer. Repeatedly. I think it's deliberate, and meant to mimic pulp fiction or whatever, but it feels a bit gimmicky. It's just not needed, and the book would have benefitted from the prose being less painfully self-aware. Fans of that style would perhaps love it, and I think Hunter is doing it with a sense of fun. It just gets bogged down for me. Especially for so long a book, and especia ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing
Stephen Hunter challenges the conventional Kennedy assassination history in this extraordinary novel with Bob Lee Swagger looking for justice 50 years after the fact. Fans of Bob Lee will be especially pleased to watch Bob wade through the mountain of ballistics, reports and assorted conflicting scenario's in a lethal cat and mouse game to find the truth. Using his legendary sniper's skills against the who, what, why, where and how of the tragic events on Nov 22, 1964, Bob Lee faces his most int ...more
William Hood
Apr 18, 2016 William Hood rated it it was amazing
This is Stephen Hunter's fictional story about how another gunman COULD have killed JFK. What's most interesting about this version is that he manages to make his story fit into the facts known about the assassination without having to change them around to fit in with his narrative. Another aspect is one I'd never been aware of before, the Dal-Tex building from which a potential shooter could have fired shots having virtually the same angle as Oswald had from the Book Depository. Oswald's shots ...more
D.Richard Lewis
Just started the book, but the author so far is way off the truth about who killed JFK. It was an inside job involving the Mafia, Vice-President Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the CIA, and the military industrial complex who JFK had screwed. The Federal Reserve Bank was also on JFK's hit list and this alone would have gotten him killed. JFK did not want Johnson to be his running mate in the next election. JFK wanted to get rid of the CIA. JFK did not want Israel to get atomic weapons. JFK did not wan ...more
May 06, 2014 Pam rated it it was ok
The Third Bullet is by Stephen Hunter. It deals with events surrounding the Kennedy assassination and the conspiracy theories.
James Aptapton was an author and he loved his alcohol. One evening he was stumbling his way home after having several drinks when he was hit by a hit and run driver and killed. Later, his wife, Jean Marquez, a journalist, stalks Mr. Swagger at Rick’s café where he eats breakfast. He doesn’t talk to many people, especially journalists and reporters. After three weeks of h
Scott Holstad
Aug 06, 2014 Scott Holstad rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It was a real adventure to read and even though it plodded along at times (I wouldn't call it a "thriller."), I guess it was kind of a suspense novel. Bob Lee Swagger is a former Marine sniper who gained fame in Vietnam. Now, he's approached by the widow of a writer who was murdered in DC, potentially because he was on to something new with JFK's assassination. So Bob takes this on, goes to Dallas, and starts snooping around. And almost immediately is the target of an assassin ...more
Mar 08, 2014 Donna rated it it was ok
This book had the potential to be excellent but quickly became a frustrating book to read. The author seems to have assumed that everyone reading the book would be either a) American, b) old enough to have followed the JFK assassination news firsthand or c) someone who learned the details in a history class.

Since I am none of the above, I found that many times I was at a loss when references to real-life people or events were made and some of the shifts in plot left me totally baffled since ther
Nov 10, 2014 Frank rated it it was amazing
Another outstanding entry in the Bob Lee Swagger saga. This one was very reminiscent of Point of Impact where Bob Lee was set up to take the fall for an assassination attempt. In this one, Bob is pulled into the possible conspiracy to kill President Kennedy when an author (similar to Hunter) was researching a book on the Kennedy assassination and was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The researcher had come upon some possible evidence that another shooter was involved in the killing. He had heard ...more
Aug 24, 2014 GT rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this Bob Lee Swagger tale spun against the historical backdrop of JFK's assassination. Having read too many books on the tragedy in Dealey Plaza in 1963 that claim to be non-fiction, fact-based exposés dealing in conspiracy theories, endless conjecture and myth, it was entertaining to read a well-written thriller that uses the events in Dallas to propel the narrative.

I will admit that the discussion at one point in the story of the difference between authentic and clichéd litera
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Third Bullet 1 1 Dec 13, 2013 09:01PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
Stephen Hunter is the author of fourteen novels, and a chief film critic at The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
More about Stephen Hunter...

Other Books in the Series

Bob Lee Swagger (9 books)
  • Point of Impact (Bob Lee Swagger, #1)
  • Black Light (Bob Lee Swagger, #2)
  • Time to Hunt (Bob Lee Swagger, #3)
  • The 47th Samurai (Bob Lee Swagger, #4)
  • Night of Thunder (Bob Lee Swagger, #5)
  • I, Sniper (Bob Lee Swagger, #6)
  • Dead Zero (Bob Lee Swagger, #7; Ray Cruz, #1)
  • Sniper's Honor (Bob Lee Swagger, #9)

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