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The Third Bullet

(Bob Lee Swagger #8)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,849 ratings  ·  447 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
ebook, 496 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,849 ratings  ·  447 reviews

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Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 lear
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jonathan Tomes
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Paul Pessolano
“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 Hunte
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely my least favorite Hunter novel to date. Probably because the story is full of redundancy and much too long. The author writes of his characters being bored and I assure you the same is true of his readers. Only the end is worthwhile and all else is overfill. 2 of 10 stars
Kevin Schaeffer
Mar 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i've read all the BLS books, and enjoyed the ride. This book was awful, i barely got through a few chapters and quit. Unreadable.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So Hunter almost always starts his novels with a witty, interesting and often blackly funny sequence. Here he literally kills himself (even a casual fan of Hunter’s would recognize the portly author that gets run the fuck over by some mysterious hitman in the first pages.) The late author’s grieving wife seeks out grand-master-of-all-things-gun Bob Lee and asks him to check out the circumstances in which he died. Turns out Aptapton/Hunter was researching the JFK assassination and had stumbled ac ...more
MisterLiberry Head
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 so
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 go
Greg Stillwagon
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story line is richly entertaining, offering a plausible alternative theory to the Warren Commission lone-gun conclusion on the JFK assassination. It is extremely well researched and well written, which brought the suggested theory alive.
I wanted to give this book a solid 4 star rating, but here is the reason I downgraded it. First of all, I am not a firearms enthusiast !!! Thus, I found the repeated description of guns, the various models and their ballistic properties too detailed, ov
Skip Maloney
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 part
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alain Burrese
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 th
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
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon Kurtz
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
I was a bit worried when I got this because the last few Swagger novels have had something missing in them.
Though "I Sniper" was a step back in the right direction.
I've never looked into the JFK assassination and it isn't something that really interests me except for one part of it and that is from a shooters pov. The weapon that was allegedly used by Oswald, all the inconsistencies with it and technical shooter stuff (weapon, loading, zero, pos/poi etc) that would probably make you fall
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
JoAnn Jordan
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent mystery novel. It explores the Kennedy assassination in detail. While Swagger is solving the crime of the century, he fights for his own life. There are interesting theories and serious fire fights.

I highly recommend this absorbing thriller. Read it and get lost in the story.
Linda Wells
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hunter goes beyond the long established Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories. His technical knowledge of firearms and ballistics allows his story to move beyond standard fare. I continue to enjoy his books, especially the Swagger series. I love the lone hero aspects, a hero who never sways from his principles.
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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.

Other books in the series

Bob Lee Swagger (1 - 10 of 11 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)
  • G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger, #10)
  • Game of Snipers
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