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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (814 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen Hunter Narrator: Phil Gigante Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Ray Cruz Series Release Date: December 2011 ISBN: 9781455843220
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Ten thousand people jam the aisles, the corridors, the elevators, and the escalators of America, the Mall—a giant Rubik’s Cube of a structure with its own amusement park located in the spacious center atrium. Of those people, nine thousand nine hundred and eighty-eight have come to shop.

The other twelve have come to kill.

Ray Cruz, one of the heroes of Hunter’s last bestseller, Dead Zero, is in the mall with his fiancée and her family. The retired Marine sniper thought he was done with stalking and killing—but among the trapped thousands, he’s the only one with a plan and the guts to confront the self-proclaimed “Brigade Mumbai.” Now all he needs is a gun.

FBI Sniper Dave McElroy has a gun. But positioned on the roof of the vast building and without explosives or fuses—or the go-ahead from his superiors—he is cut off from his targets and forced into the role of witness to the horror unfolding below.

Having learned the lessons of Columbine, the feds believe that immediate action is the only solution. But Douglas Obobo, the charismatic and ambitious commandant of the state police, orders cooperation, tolerance, communication, and empathy for the gunmen. He feels that with his superior negotiating skills, he can make contact with the shooters and gently nudge them into surrender. But what if their goal all along has been unparalleled massacre—and they’re only waiting for prime time?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A solid addition to Stephen Hunter’s sniper series, made more engaging by its invocation of current events and political posturing. I join his other fans in hoping he has another one already in the works.”

    Washington Times

  • “Stephen Hunter spent years reviewing movies for the Washington Post. That work gave him a keen sense of pacing and timing. The evidence shows up in Soft Target, which unrolls a complicated and grabby plot in just 256 tense pages. And Hunter packs in a surprise with the identity and motive of the individual behind the terrorist attack.”

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • “Hunter’s writing is sharp, detailed…Hunter has produced a fast, gratifying read.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Stephen Hunter didn’t invent the high-action thriller. But, as he once again demonstrates in the lightning-paced Soft Target, he might as well have…Soft Target is Die Hard with a brain and a plan. A lean, action-packed tale that begs to be read in a single sitting.”

    Providence Journal 

  • “[A] fast-paced thriller…As this straightforward adventure tale builds to its fearsome climax, it’s the actions of Cruz and Oates to thwart the terrorists that captivate.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Combining elements of the locked-room mystery, the disaster novel, and the lock-and-load thriller, Hunter produces a remarkably gripping tale, building character (the captives, the bureaucrats, and the ‘terrorists’ all get compelling backstories) every bit as convincingly as he drives the narrative to its High Noon–style finale.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Any thriller in which Middle Eastern terrorists whack Santa on the first page is bound to be exciting. As always, Hunter has crafted a fast-paced and all-too-plausible telling of our worst nightmares coming true. Ray Cruz is a worthy successor to Swagger. Hunter’s fans, along with new readers, will enjoy the violent battle between Cruz and the bad guys.”

    Library Journal

  • “Black Friday [is] on the cusp of becoming blood-soaked Friday…Among the shoppers, albeit reluctantly, is Ray Cruz, a retired marine sniper, son of the iconic marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger, whose valorous exploits Hunter has richly detailed…Snipers and SWAT teams gather, but only one man is in an advantageous tactical position, behind enemy lines, as it were. Only one man, but he’s Bob Lee Swagger’s son, and what a good thing it is that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree…The action scenes are well done as usual, and the premise chills.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Narrator Phil Gigante’s expert pacing and deep tones bring intensity to the suspense and vividness to the violence. The story unfolds in real time, covering both the terrorists’ and law enforcement’s perspectives. Gigante captures the essence of both sides and the conflicts between the FBI and Minnesota police. He offers a range of American and international accents that, when combined with commentary on consumerism and politics, along with plenty of action, creates an exceptional thriller.”

    AudioFile

  • A New York Times bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Charlee | 2/14/2014

    " What a disappointment! I read the entire book in hopes it would get better. It did not. I wouldn't be so harsh with my review if I didn't know Hunter could do better. Most of the Bob Lee Swagger and all of the Earl Lee Swagger books are quite good. Page turning drama, good character development, 3D bad guys - none present in this book. *snore* "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mommymac10 | 2/14/2014

    " Why would I put a Hunter book on hold?? Writer of manly-man thrillers. etc. Then I looked at the jacket prose and saw that this one involves a group of Islamists taking the Mall of America (here called "America, the Mall") hostage -- on Black Friday, no less, the biggest shopping day in the country. Well, I grew up maybe 40 miles away from the mall, fly over it every once in a while, and so I had to read the thing. Altho it's been many years since I read "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3", I remember it as being much more suspenseful than Hunter's book. The politix and posturing among the several American agencies gathered to deal with the threat was interesting, though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 2/9/2014

    " Amusing for what it is. It is an action thriller, and not much more. There are some clunky parts (thinly veiled near allegory) and at least one full-on groaner (nothing major, just a terrible set of names that I won't spoil). However, it did deliver on some interesting action sequences. I'd probably rate this 2 1/2 or 2 3/4 but rounded up because it was kind of fun. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe O'hara | 2/4/2014

    " I don't think this author likes Obama very much. Some the association does ring true though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Al Stoess | 1/20/2014

    " Hunter writes a good book. Lots of violence. Ending needs improvement. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori Wolf | 1/20/2014

    " This is a very timely, well written book. Possible spoiler alert! The characters are complex, yet you either love them (heroes) or hate them. The dislike is not just for the terrorists, but also for the self-important decision makers who put their own career in front of the lives of innocent people. And let's not forget the ambulance chasers thrown in at the end- who could possibly have any sympathy after the storyline provided them throughout the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom Tischler | 1/20/2014

    " Not the usual Swagger book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 1/6/2014

    " I got this specifically for my husband but we both read it and really liked it. "Didn't want it to end" -good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 12/23/2013

    " The bad guys were a little too stereotypical. Still pretty good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Agatha | 11/27/2013

    " I like Hunter's books about generations of Marine snipers; this one is set in a large shopping mall on the day after Thanksgiving; I was at the Mall of America last years so I especially enjoyed the setting. But the multiple points of view weaken the tenstion of this novel about hostage-taking "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 11/22/2013

    " Other reviewers have been over the details. It's like candy. Sit back and enjoy it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marc Berman | 11/11/2013

    " Good book. Not Hunter's best work but it gave some character development to Ray Cruz. I'm sure we will be seeing him again. Personally, I'm looking forward to the return of Bob Lee Swagger. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 George | 10/27/2013

    " might be time to move onto a different story/characters. this one was a big miss from me "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rjames1999 | 7/15/2013

    " Not near as good as Hunter's previous two. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Henry | 6/15/2013

    " Excellent fast moving, and full of good technical info. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ken | 3/6/2013

    " 3.5 Stars. Retired Marine sniper, Ray Cruz, finds himself at the Mall of America with his family on the Friday after Thanksgiving when a group of 12 gunmen open fire in the Mall's corridors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marti | 10/21/2012

    " Stephen Hunter is a craftsman of the novel. I can't read all his books because his obsession with guns can be overwhelming. But this tightly woven thriller had just the right amount of detail, a very cool protagonist and a great plot. Loved it. Hope there's a movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 9/6/2012

    " I could not put this book down! Scary because of the actual possibility of this happening. Pick it up, you'll get a very very good read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vickie | 8/28/2012

    " Meh. Action thriller about a mall that is taken over by terrorists on Black Friday. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gerry Davy | 8/4/2012

    " Well written and interesting but I was left wanting more when I finished. To me this book should have been one incident in a larger tome. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 2/20/2012

    " This is a very good book. It is an excellent expose" of the current American culture. It is not a very pretty picture.! Perhaps it should be required reading for every American (not that they would believe there is anything wrong with them, though --sigh---) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Don Gorman | 1/24/2012

    " Very exciting, very intense, very fun. "

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About the Author
Author Stephen Hunter

Stephen Hunter is an author and former Pulitzer Prize–winning film critic for the Washington Post. The author of the Bob Lee Swagger and Earl Swagger series of novels, he has also published several novels, two collections of film criticism, and other nonfiction works. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

About the Narrator

Phil Gigante has narrated more than two hundred audiobooks, earning ten AudioFile Earphones Awards and three of the prestigious Audie Awards for best narration. An actor, director, and producer with over twenty years of experience in theater, film, television, and radio, he is currently the artistic director of Gigantic Productions and Little Giant Children’s Theatre.