G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger Series #10)

G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger Series #10)

by Stephen Hunter

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“A roaring good read.”—FORBES.com
Master sniper Bob Lee Swagger returns in this riveting novel by bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Hunter.
Ryan Philippe currently stars as Bob Lee Swagger on the hit USA Network series Shooter.

The Great Depression was marked by an epidemic of bank robberies and Tommy-gun-toting outlaws who became household names. Hunting them down was the new U.S. Division of Investigation—soon to become the FBI—which was determined to nab the most dangerous gangster this country has ever produced: Baby Face Nelson. To stop him, the Bureau recruited talented gunman Charles Swagger, World War I hero and sheriff of Polk County, Arkansas.

Eighty years later, Charles’s grandson Bob Lee Swagger uncovers a strongbox containing an array of memorabilia dating back to 1934—a federal lawman’s badge, a .45 automatic preserved in cosmoline, a mysterious gun part, and a cryptic diagram—all belonging to Charles Swagger. Bob becomes determined to find out what happened to his grandfather— and why his own father never spoke of Charles. But as he investigates, Bob learns that someone is following him—and shares his obsession.

Told in alternating timeframes, G-Man is a thrilling addition to Stephen Hunter’s bestselling Bob Lee Swagger series.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399574627
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Series: Bob Lee Swagger Series , #10
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 6,801
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Stephen Hunter is the author of 20 novels and the retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism. His novels include The Third Bullet; Sniper's Honor; I, Sniper; I, Ripper; and Point of Impact, which was adapted for film and TV as Shooter. Hunter lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

Copyright © 2017 Stephen Hunter





The present


The blades of the graders contoured the land to spec. They rounded hills, felled and flattened woods, scoured underbrush, crushed rocks, filled hollows, collapsed ravines. Nothing but raw earth remained. What had been complex became plain, according to the latest large-project construction principles. Streets had been staked out, while sewers and wiring and cable were planted in furrows. Then the houses would spring up, rows of them, all alike, but soon to be differentiated by their new owners. It was progress—or, at least, development—it was growth, it was capitalism, it was hope. It couldn’t be stopped, so mourning was pointless.

This land had sustained one family for close to two centuries, first claimed in the late 1780s by a quiet couple from over the mountains, where the war was just finishing. They gave no account of themselves. They and theirs stayed for seven generations, and for that whole time they were steady, solid; they went to church, they gave to charity, they did their share in emergency or crisis. But more, it turned out they were a family of heroes. Their boys learned to hunt; they learned the hunter’s patience, his stoicism, his courage, his mercy, his honor. They had a gift for the firearm, and more than a few of them took that gift off to war. Some made it back, some didn’t. Some became officers of the law, for in those days that too called for the shooter’s talent. They shot for blood many a time, and, again, some made it back and some didn’t.

They were all gone now. The last of them had sold off the place for a substantial amount and fled, not wanting to see what was done to his home- stead and the homestead of his ancestors.

Now the contouring was all but finished. Only the old house remained, atop a hillock that dominated the spread, a comfortable, rambling joint that had been added to over the decades until it practically made no sense at all. The hill was too much for the graders and so the company brought in a big Cat excavator, the 326F L model, a machine classified medium by weight, and set it loose, under the guidance of a professional genius named Ralph.

From afar, it looked like some kind of Jurassic ritual. A yellow Tyrannosaurus rex had downed a Bronto or a Stegosaurus and now fed on soft underbelly. The knuckle boom of Ralph’s big Cat pierced and ripped and tore, its bucket armed with side cutters and teeth, taking down walls and floors swiftly, in a single day reducing what had been a large house to a large pile of rubble. The next day, using the bucket as an artist would a brush, Ralph cleared the shattered remnants of two centuries’ worth of history, loading them into the trucks, which hauled them off to the landfill. Finally, on the third day, only the foundation remained, and he directed the bucket to continue its feast of destruction, smashing the stones into smaller chunks, then scooping them up for disposal. It was all going according to plan—until it wasn’t.

The managers saw him stop, pop the big machine out of gear, turn off its hydraulics, then leap from the yellow house, dash along the tread and swing down off the boom, pass under the knuckle, and reach the bucket, which was frozen in place on a particularly large chunk of foundation that would not shatter according to plan.

They approached and swiftly became an inspection committee.

“Something wrong, Ralph?”

“You didn’t bust a pump or lose a piston?”

“Did you spring a hydraulic leak there, Ralph?”

Of course all this really meant but one thing: how much is this going to cost us?  

But Ralph was on his knees, studying on the joinery between the bucket’s teeth—those hard T. rex fangs—and earth.

“I felt something,” he said. “You know, you get so you can read the vibrations. It wasn’t stone, dirt, pipe—nothing like that.”

He poked, prodded, messed around with a shovel.

“What’d it feel like?” he was asked.

“Some kind of metal. I don’t know, a sheet or a—”

He stopped, spotting something, leaped forward, examined more closely, inserted the shovel’s blade, dug, pried, cleared, sought leverage, and finally, with a spray of dirt like an explosion, exposed something from the Great Beneath.

“Jesus,” he said, now pulling the treasure free, “it’s a strongbox of some kind.”

It was, looking like the sort of thing carried by Wells Fargo and subject to larceny by men in dusters and hats, with bandannas across their faces and Winchesters in their hands.

The committee gathered around. Curiosity now overcame their need, if only for a bit, to stay on schedule.

“Maybe it’s full of gold,” somebody remarked.

Ralph, whose genius was practical, not speculative, smacked at the padlock a few times with his shovel, expertly driving the corner tip of its blade under the locking hasp, and the hasp’s old metal couldn’t bear the spike in pressure and broke open on the third blow.

The committee gathered closer as he tossed the busted lock away and pulled the lid back on the strongbox’s rusted hinges.

The contents were initially disappointing. A number of objects wrapped tightly in heavy canvas, loosely secured by disintegrating tape, their outlines muffled by the heavy swaddling. Ralph popped a Kershaw knife from the pocket of his jeans, where it had been clipped, cut the tape, and used the point of the blade to push through the mass of canvas. It gave way to an oily cloth wrapping, under which the thing, shed of its canvas raiments, assumed a familiar shape. At last, he got this final oily wrapping away from it and held it out, gleaming in the sun, for all to see.

“It’s a damned pistol,” he proclaimed.

“It’s an old .45 automatic,” someone who knew said.

“Old?” someone else said. “Hell, it looks brand-new!”

They were otherwise stunned into silence. Finally someone said, “Man, I bet that bad boy has a story to tell.”

Customer Reviews

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G-Man 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read. Helps to have a background with earlier books but not necessary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is 476 pages. The story jumps between today and back to the 1930's . Involves the FBI hiring" cowboys" to help them gun down the most wanted gangsters of the 30's. Would recommend to anyone who in joys mob novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
oldwarden More than 1 year ago
Years ago, I was a huge fan of the author's "Bob Lee Swagger" series of books. I can remember my father-in-law and I devouring them, and having spirited discussions about them. Then, along about the time Hunter began the "Earl Swagger" series, the author's plot lines devolved, and his verbiage became unbearable. So many obscure descriptions and dialogue that, rather than adding to the story, instead overwhelmed them. So I took a break from the author. Enter his latest novel, "G-Man". I wanted to like it. I really tried. I made it halfway through the book, before becoming so exasperated that I had to quit. It had the thinnest of plot, based around crazy, imaginary encounters of an entire whos-who of 1930's era gangsters, and the shoehorning in of the main character. And, where I thought Hunter had gone overboard in his verbiage in the past, he takes it to an entirely different level here. So much unnecessary language! What possible reason is there to spend a page detailing a minor character's choice of soft drinks? Or the color of a woman's dress? It just went on and on. At the end, I thought that perhaps it was just me, that my tastes had changed. So I read a bit to my wife. She looked at me like I was insane. "Why would you and my father read such drivel?" she asked. "It sounds like someone trying to pad a school paper with words to meet the teacher's minimum standard". At that point, I had to realize. Hunter has jumped the shark. He has taken a wonderful character in Bob Lee Swagger, and ruined it. That's it for me. No more Stephen Hunter!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Stephen Hunter has done it again! He's a master of historical fiction. How he's able to intertwine historically factual elements and seamlessly weave them into a readable novel is remarkable. As a reader I find myself being transported to the era and places of which Hunter writes. I know what fall in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is like. He took me back to the smell of autumn leaves and the crisp November air. The gun battles he portrays leaves the reader with a ringing in their ears, the smell of burnt gunpowder in their nostrils, and the taste of sod and dirt in their mouths. I'm ready for my next serving.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stephen Hunter is a hard as nails wordsmith. He weaves the narrative into a diamond edged easily understood storyline. Characters of myth and history come to life in this novel. Bob Lee Swagger's life becomes more defined with the revelation of his grandfather's life and the demons he dealt with. Through it all, each generation of Swaggers stood tall and did their duty with courage and dignity. Weaving all those bank robbers into one story, that ends with them all killed by the FBI's tenacious pursuit, and the dedication of a hero amongst us in Charles Swagger. From Bonnie and Clyde to Baby Faced Nelson, he got them all. This was a tremendous read and reaffirms my faith in Stephen Hunter as a master of the compelling hard knuckled fiction I've come to truly enjoy. Jack Reacher and Bob Lee Swagger have a lot in common.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the 10th book of the series I've read and I've enjoyed this one the most.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always, a terrific read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the story. The Charles revelation near the end surprised me. Why did Mr. Hunter feel he had to use that theme to explain Charles' behavior when there were so many other avenues?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u can remenber watching the Untouchables, I think u will love this new enrty in Stephen Hunter's books. Personally I loved this book and the new character. My advice is to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel starts slow because it has so much weight to overcome, the weight of introducing a new member of the Swagger clan, Bob Lee's grandfather, Charles, and the weight of reintroducing the world of the 1930's bank robber gangs. Once that weight begins to move, the narrative builds an urgency that eventually becomes difficult to contain. The last eighty pages fly by as the train barrels downhill toward the stain. Filed with historical detail and insight into the major characters, the stories of the Swagger of the past and the Swagger present resolve themselves in a satisfying, yet unexpected ending. Now, when will I have time to read this a second time to find out what I missed this first read?
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
A very interesting story whereby the author has invented a character that was secretly used by the Justice Department (FBI) who actually was the one that killed all the infamous bank robbers of the day. Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, etc. The old homestead of this man is being demolished and during that process a tin box is found. Inside the box is a government issue weapon, an FBI badge and another item no one is exactly sure what it is. The grandson of this man has never heard of his grandfather being in the FBI and he wonders what these items are all about. This is the premise of the book. I thought it was a very interesting take and enjoyed reading the book very much. I would like to thank Penguin Group, Blue Rider Press and Net Galley for allowing me the privilege to read and review this interesting and entertaining story.