Mysterious Book Report The Third BulletThe Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter

Simon & Shuster, $26.99, 485 pages, ISBN 978-1-4516-4020-5

This November twenty-second will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United   States.  For those of us who are old enough to remember that horrific day and its aftermath, it hardly seems possible that so much time has passed.  In the words of a popular song . . . I just looked around and he’s gone . . .

The President is gone, fifty years is gone, the Viet Nam War is gone, our innocence is gone . . . and our youth is gone. Now is the time we become reflective in our lives, with all us Baby Boomers reminiscing, and remembering; thinking about what happened, what went right and what went wrong in our lives.  The Kennedy Assassination is one of the monumental events of our collective life and times and as such, we can expect a plethora of shows, books and articles on the subject.  MBR No 109 is a fictionalized version of the events of November 22, 1963 without altering or contradicting any of the known and accepted facts of the Warren Commission, which investigated the shooting, or the two best pieces of investigative work about it: Case Closed, by Gerald Posner, and Reclaiming History, by Vincent Bugliosi.

The Third Bullet, by Stephen Hunter is a lengthy and complex novel in which his iconic serial character named Bob Lee Swagger tries to solve the mystery of the third bullet, (the missing one) in the Kennedy Assassination.  Swagger is of course, the US Marine Sharpshooter we first met in Hunter’s novel I, Sniper.  Following up on a rumor after the hit and run death of a investigative journalist who was compiling new information about the assassination of JFK, and using an old overcoat found in the Dallas Textiles building next door to the Book Depository in Dallas, Texas from where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy, protagonist Bob Lee Swagger opens his own investigation . . .  attempting to prove the existence of a second shooter by using ballistics technology not available in 1963, as well as his own unique experience and training as a sniper.  What follows is an intense and deadly hunt and chase to catch one of the smartest and deadliest of adversaries and evil misguided geniuses Mr. Hunter has ever conceived.  Swagger’s narrative is joined by a second, more sophisticated one a little past the halfway point of the novel, and the reader realizes that Swagger the hunter may be instead the hunted: the predator may now be prey.  The Third Bullet is full of detail concerning the events of November 22, 1963, as well as enough gun lore to keep even the most ardent armchair soldiers of fortune enthralled.  This one will take some time to read, so sit back, dig in and enjoy.


John Dwaine McKenna