Dead Zero-Stephen Hunter

Dead Zero

Stephen Hunter

Simon and Schuster, Dec 28 2010, $26.00

ISBN: 9781439138656

In Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, U.S. marine sniper team Whiskey 2-2 is deployed on a covert operation to kill Taliban commander Ibrahim “the Beheader” Zarzi.  However, someone betrayed the unit leaving them massacred by professionals in the tribal area.

Several months later, Zarzi quits the Taliban.  He travels to America where he meets the president and congressional leaders.  The State Department believes he is the best choice to bring a corrupt free stable government to the war torn nation.  At the same time, apparently Marine Gunnery Sergeant Ray “the Cruise Missile” Cruz, thought dead in the Zarzi massacre especially with the crater remains of the unit as proof, has reported by radio using last years codes.  He resolutely will complete his final mission.  The FBI deploys retired Marine sniper Bob “the Nailer” Lee Swagger to prevent Cruz from beheading the Beheader while someone in the shadows tracks Bob in order to kill Cruz before he can be debriefed.

The latest Swagger thriller (see I, Sniper and Night Thunder) is a fabulous entry with a strong cast especially the lead male trio.  Besides non-stop action, the story line contains an insightful look at political strange bedfellows in which yesterday’s most wanted for assassination becomes today’s most wanted ally or visa versa; think of Reagan-Bush 41 befriend Hussein in the 1980s becoming public enemy number one for Bush 41 and Bush 43.  Swagger understands this as his mission is to do whatever including kill a fellow marine to protect an Afghan who probably led the slaughter of Whiskey 2-2.  Fast-paced, fans anticipate the collision as The Cruise Missile targets the Beheader with The Nailer targeting the Cruise Missile while someone waits in the shadows to clean up the mess.

Harriet Klausner

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