Retired sniper Bob Lee Swagger gets a call from journalist friend Kathy Reilly, who is writing a story on a Russian female sniper in World War II called the White Witch. The scene shifts to World War II and the sniper herself, along with her boss and her target. As her story unfolds in alternate chapters, we follow Bob and Kathy in the present day as they rediscover her story, one of love and war and fanaticism and betrayal, with front row seats to battles that will leave your eyes watering from the smoke of the guns. Man, can Hunter write shoot-outs. The best one is in the present day between Bob and Kathy and those who would really rather they not find out the truth about the White Witch, thanks, which ambush echoes on a smaller scale the one that happened sixty years before. Both are nail-bitingly realistic. Hunter can plot, too, but I won’t spoil. Every ending in this book (there might be six but I lost count) will make you alternately gasp and cheer.
I bought Sniper’s Honor at the recommendation of the Poisoned Pen’s Book News, and I tell you true, when I saw that there were Nazis in it I almost threw the book across the room. I’m so gawdalmighty tired of books with Nazis in them (and books about the US Civil War, but that’s another whine). I am so glad I didn’t. Every single German in this book is a real human being, even the monsters, and it goes without saying that all the characters, upstanders like Bob and Kathy and weasels like Jerry are great, too. This book is worth reading for the conversations between Karl and Wili alone, in which characters Hunter is channelling the German Willie and Joe. I bet Bill Mauldin himself would have loved them.
And Hunter’s women are badasses to behold.
“That premise is no longer operative. You’re fighting for your reasons. You’re in love with Mili, you old coot, don’t say you’re not, and it’s the best fight you ever had. Well, I’m fighting for mine, which is that no asshole comes along and says, ‘Sweetie, do us a favor and don’t write the story.’ I will write the story, if I have to be Mili Petrova to do it. Nobody tells me to go away like a good little girl. I was never a good little girl. Good little girls don’t become reporters. Besides, the story’s already on the budget.”
Lemme hear you say YEAH!
Sniper’s Honor should be held up as a template for anyone who ever thought they wanted to write action adventure. Highly recommended, especially if you want a good cardiovascular workout.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.