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Night of Thunder: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger #5)

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,445 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
New York Times bestselling author Stephen Hunter sends former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger deep into the heart of NASCAR country in this action-packed thriller.

Talk about a ride!

Woe unto he who crosses Bob Lee Swagger, especially when his daughter’s life is at stake. Forced off the road and into a crash that leaves her in a coma, clinging to life, reporter Nikki Swagger h
ebook, 400 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Apr 01, 2012 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action
Well, if I went 4 stars on 47th Samurai I have to go at least that here. I (like others here) often bemoan the limited range of our 5 start system. I like these books, like all of them that I've read (it seems I missed one and will have to go back and pick up Time To Hunt, oops.) I don't however think that so far one is a 5 star read. The first was close (based on enjoyment and interest factors) but not quite. The The 47th Samurai I found...not quite as good. I suppose it would be on the lower e ...more
Jim Coughenour
I wouldn't say that Stephen Hunter has lost his edge, only that he's indulging himself. His new Bob Lee Swagger book isn't a patch on the old ones – Dirty White Boys; Point of Impact; Black Light; Hot Springs; etc. The previous one – The 47th Samurai – was evidently inspired by his interest in Samurais, and in the acknowledgements to Night of Thunder he confesses that this one was engendered by NASCAR. Hunter's got a Pulitzer prize, he can write whatever he wants but this book is a dud.

Even wors
Feb 01, 2014 Maddy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
RATING: 3.25

Bob Lee Swagger, former Marine sniper in Vietnam, is now in his mid 60s. You could almost believe that he is becoming domesticated, in that he has a happy home life with his wife Julie, their young daughter, Miko, and a successful adult daughter, Nikki. Nikki Swagger is a beginning journalist; currently, she is working on a series of articles about methamphetamine trade in the Virginia/Tennessee area. She's just completed an interview when she is pursued on a treacherous mountain roa
Feb 10, 2009 Jeffrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hunter fans
One of the problems that I have with thrillers of a certain vintage of long term authors is that we know that the main character is not going to die. SO you need to suspend your basic disbelief. This is not to say that authors do not kill off major characters -- wives being the most useful apparently.

In this latest thriller from Stephen Hunter, Bob Lee Swagger's daughter is injured in traffic hit and run while investigating the meth trade. Swagger, a sniper and ex Marine, and a fighter without c
Jan 21, 2012 DJMikeG rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What goes well with a NASCAR 500 mile race, you ask? Why, Stephen Hunter figured it out jest fine. You need a big ole gun fight with a brigade of real nasty bad guys and just one good guy, if that good guy is Bob Lee Swagger. You see, these big old bad guys think they are Big Jim “Walker” Grumleys. But they musta not listened to the whole song on the radio when Jim Croce came on, cause they missed the unplugged version’s last chorus:

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
Our main character, Bob Lee Swagger, has done it all: fought samurai, other master snipers, and a variety of hitmen. So what is left? "Night of Thunder" offers up a group of backwoods hillbilly's, a corrupt deputy, and a hitman that kills people by running them off the road with the stolen car of his choice. Shouldn't be a problem for Bob the Nailer, and it isn't. It is too damn easy, and that is why the action seems boring and irrelevant. There are couple of quick shoot outs (because Bob is so ...more
Dec 11, 2009 Quinn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books, action
Although this book had some slightly surprising twists in the end and the action sequences were terrific they were far and in between. The first three quarters of the book dragged a lot and I had a hard time reading them. The book does get better towards the last quarter of the book so I would still recommend reading it. After reading several of Stephen Hunters novels I like the ones with Earl Swagger far better. I have a hard time buying into the Bob Lee Swagger character and to me he seems pho ...more
May 12, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this novel. Something that was initially off-putting was that Hunter used a curious voice for the narration, but after I got used to it, I really enjoyed the cadence and structure of the prose. It reminded me a little of the dialogue between Raylon Givens and Boyd Crowder in the show "Justified", set in Kentucky (the novel's setting is Tennessee). The story is tightly plotted and was a fast read. The setting also offered up some interesting tidbits on car race culture. I have to ...more
Christopher Taylor
This is my first Stephen Hunter Bobby Lee Swagger book, and it was enjoyable. The hero by this point is pretty messed up through all his many adventures so I'd like to read an earlier one to see what he was like at first.

The story is of the south during a NASCAR race involving a plot and characters that feels heavily influenced by the TV show Justified, but still holds its own. It is an engaging enough story and written well, although I did find the characters to be too uniformly skillful and c
I really want to rate this 3.5 stars. It's a fun read, but it's tough me to rate a book higher when it definitely has some issues in the writing. It's an enjoyable read. If you're familiar with the movie Shooter, the character is different but you should like the book.

This book has a great setup. Works really well to get you into the story, the setting is perfect, rural, meth-ridden Tennessee as the big NASCAR race approaches. Bob Lee Swagger, the hero, if a bit shallow in characterization at ti
Oct 19, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another super entry in the Bob Lee Swagger series by Hunter. In this one, Bob Lee is on the trail of someone who drove his daughter Nikki off the road and put her in a coma. Nikki, who is now a reporter in Bristol, Tennessee, was on the trail of a potential large meth operation in the Bristol area when she was intentionally driven off the road. Well, of course Bob Lee gets on the trail of a gang of southern killers, the Grumleys, who are in the midst of preparing for some sort of high-stakes hei ...more
Jul 07, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bob Lee Swagger comes to the NASCAR race in Bristol, TN after his daughter nearly dies from her car shoved off the road. Meth superlab, souped up cars, guns galore, and detective sleuthing are rolled up into one gritty story.
Steve Dennie
Feb 06, 2012 Steve Dennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Night of Thunder” (2008) takes place in Bristol, Tennessee, just before the big Bristol NASCAR race. Pam and I visited the Bristol track a few years ago on vacation. It’s truly an amazing track, and I could only imagine the excitement around the race. This book brings out that excitement.

Stephen Hunter has written three books starring Earl Lee Swaggard, a WW2 Medal of Honor winner and southern sheriff. He’s a fine creation, as hard as they come, maybe as tough as Jack Reacher. But Hunter’s best
Oct 09, 2010 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
Bob Lee Swagger is one tough fellow. If you saw the film "Shooter" then you know that he is an expert sharpshooter from a long line of action heroes.

Bob's daughter, Nikki, is an investigative reporter. She winds up in an auto accident that is suspicious in nature.. and from there, Bob Lee comes in and starts his own investigation.. slowly uncovering... ????

Okay.. I'll stop there, excpet to remind you that the cover of the book shows a Nascar racing car and that becomes the setting for the book.
Jan 10, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hunter- Night of Thunder (Pocket Star Books 2009) 3.75 Stars

NASCAR is coming to Britsol, but reporter Nikki Swagger is not interested in NASCAR, she is hunting down a lead on a meth lab. She is following up on the lead when she is run off of the road, in an attempt to kill her. She is now in the hospital. Not sure when she will awake from her coma, Bob Lee Swagger is digging into just who may have wanted his daughter dead. He won’t stop until he brings the guilty to justice, even if it m
Oct 20, 2013 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-thriller
For background to Stephen Hunter's books, see my review of "Point of Impact."

Like The 47th Samurai, this #5 in the Bob Lee Swagger series is one of the weakest, though I still found it worthwhile. Bob’s daughter Nikki has become a fledgling reporter for a backwoods Tennessee television station; her current investigation is of the methamphetamine trade in the county. She is forced off of a mountain road and spends a long time in a coma, but survives.

Bob arrives to see her and to get to the bottom
Tim Niland
Dec 27, 2008 Tim Niland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
According to my colleague, I'm not allowed to use the term "dicklit" anymore and instead must use the more prosaic "manfiction" to describe the type of book that has big boys with big cars with big engines and big guns with really big explosions. Bob Lee Swagger's daughter is a reporter hot on the trail of a meth ring, when she is forced off the road in a murder attempt and ends up in a coma. Swagger is an ex marine sniper and all-around badass who is not going to take this lying down. So he rol ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't sure where this one was going from the outset, as it had been a while since I'd read a Swagger book. Still not sure I liked how it was all gift-wrapped with a bow at the end. The special ammo is, as far as I can tell, exaggerated for narrative, although it technically *does* do what it's suggested that it does. Not the best, but a better read than it could have been.
S.M. Johnson
This author was suggested to readers who enjoy Lee Child. I liked the characters (Swagger and his family) and the setting, and the plot worked well for me. The villains were diabolical, and their big caper was nothing like I'd read before. And of course, one ought not to mess with an assassin's daughter.

There was just one odd thing - all the dialogue was stilted and just a little bit odd. To me, it read like the characters were reading from a script, and they all had the same voice. If this was
Jan 17, 2016 Lori rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I quit after a hundred pages. Bob Lee Swagger is turning into Donald Trump..not really, but when he offers the cyber geek a million dollar tip on top of the check he's left blank..he ceases to be someone I can take seriously. Too bad, because the series started out so well. Anyway, I'm finished because he no longer seems real to me.
Mar 27, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good ole' 'Bob The Nailer' is back, and he is every bit as good as ever. USMC Retired Bob Lee Swagger rides again, perplexed as always until the end. For the bad guys, not 'Bob The Nailer', of course. Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out. I loves me some Stephen Hunter.
Jan 14, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bob-lee-swagger
I was pleased to see a return to the Gunny that I've come to know and love... The Bob Lee that's as adept with gunplay as he is breathing. I enjoyed the concept of the story and its integration with Nascar culture. It was a fresh environment and a new conflict that didn't tie back to Swagger's rather violent past. On that note, I appreciated the Sheriff's observation to Swagger that he shows up and his quiet town turns into Dodge City. And maybe that's what makes a character like Bob Lee so comp ...more
Jeff Lamb
Aug 18, 2015 Jeff Lamb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Similar to his others

Love reading Stephen hunter. This one was not necessarily up my alley but was still very good. I'd recommend it but not more than any of his others.
Wayne Marney
Dec 31, 2014 Wayne Marney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Hunter

Not much to say, good read. However only in a novel will someone take up a false FB1 identity; their arrogance would not suffer it.
Oct 18, 2013 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Wayne by: Goodreads
This is another Bob Lee Swagger book. He is older now. The episode takes place in Tennessee where his daughter Nikki is almost killed in a car accident. Turns out someone is trying to kill her. The activity unfolds with a bunch of wild and cray hayseed family called the Grumleys trying to pull off a masterful heist at a NASCAR event. The description of events are vivid, and you will find yourself laughing at the description of these hayseeds operating a captured armored vehicle loaded with $3 mi ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-books-read
In the past, Hunter couldn't write fast enough to quell desire for his Swagger series (Earl and Bob Lee). Now retired from his full-time job as an award-winning critic at the Washington Post, Night of Thunder comes quick on the heels of The 47th Samurai.
Bob Lee comes to the rescue of his daughter, Nikki, who bulls her way into a developing caper. Bob Lee shows up, sans weapons, but quickly gears up with the latest in firearms technology and gets the bad guys.
The twist in this book is that Hunte
Aug 10, 2013 Krishna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
From the marvellous 1st Bob Lee Swagger book Point Of Impact to this lacklustre effort that reads like a first (unedited) proof?

One would have thought that after the strange fish-out-of-water exercise that was the 47th Samurai (that saw seasoned sniper and series regular Bob Lee Swagger stripped of his guns and plonked right in the heart of Japan for a climactic swordfight), Swagger's 5th outing that sees him back on familiar turf would be a return to form.

Sadly, no.

Awash with Southern stereotyp
Jan 25, 2016 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cool. Loved it, but be prepared to leave any sense of disbelief at the door. fast-paced, original Swagger's the perfect lone maverick.
Apr 25, 2011 Mandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a while ago, and forgot to add it to my post. I don't remember how I selected it, but I do remember that I enjoyed it. Bob Swagger, the unassuming guy with a hero's past tries to save his daughter and find out what happened to cause her crash. Not all is as it seems, and even though he was a Marine Sniper, Swagger has quite the knack for seeing things others missed in an investigation. He also has driving skills (as does his daughter). Oh, to be a Swagger where the gun and driving ge ...more
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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)
  • I, Sniper (Bob Lee Swagger, #6)
  • Dead Zero (Bob Lee Swagger, #7; Ray Cruz, #1)
  • The Third Bullet (Bob Lee Swagger, #8)
  • Sniper's Honor (Bob Lee Swagger, #9)

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