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Extended Audio Sample The Third Bullet Audiobook, by Stephen Hunter Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (548 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen Hunter Narrator: Buck Schirner Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Bob Lee Swagger Series Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9781469205885
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It’s not even a clue. It’s a whisper, a trace, a ghost echo, drifting down through the decades via chance connections so fragile that they would disintegrate in the puff of a breath. But it’s enough to get legendary former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger interested in the events of November 22, 1963, and the third bullet that so decisively ended the life of John F. Kennedy and set the stage for one of the most enduring controversies of our time.

Swagger begins his slow night stalk through a much-traveled landscape. But he’s asking questions that few have asked before: Why did the third bullet explode? Why did Lee Harvey Oswald, about to become the most hunted man on earth, risk it all by returning to his rooming house to secure a pistol he easily could have brought with him? How could a conspiracy that went unpenetrated for fifty years have been thrown together in the two and a half days between the announcement of the president’s route and the assassination itself?

As Bob investigates, another voice enters the narrative: knowing, ironic, almost familiar, that of a gifted, Yale-educated veteran of the CIA Plans Division. Hugh Meachum has secrets and the means and the will to keep them buried. When weighed against his own legacy, Swagger’s life is an insignificant expense — but to blunt the threat, he’ll first have to ambush the sniper.

As each man hunts the other across today’s globe and through the thickets of history, The Third Bullet builds to an explosive climax that will finally prove what Bob Lee Swagger has always known: it’s never too late for justice.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A magnificent thriller—and it might even be true.”

    Lee Child

  • “As riveting as it is ambitious. It’s Stephen Hunter’s best so far.”

    Michael Connelly

  • “Stephen Hunter is the bullseye ace of the modern thriller, a cerebral mix of mystery, blood, brutality, treachery and suspense.”

    Stephen Coonts

  • “The author’s obsessive attention to the events of Nov. 22 yields a stunningly plausible theory that will have readers holding the book in one hand and Googling satellite photos of Dealey Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository with the other.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “The whole thing ends with a shootout in rural Connecticut that’s so tense you’ll burn your dinner rather than stop reading.”

    Washington Post

  • “Like Stephen King in 11/22/63, Hunter has used the assassination to forge a terrific thriller.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Selected for the January 2013 Indie Next List
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wayne | 2/20/2014

    " I like the Bob the Nailer books. This story puts forth an alternative possibility for the JFK assasination. The alternative was fascinating to watch unfold. Bob continues to outsmart, the FBI and every bad guy and also be quicker and more nimble. That's a little hard to take but still entertaining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 2/16/2014

    " Another fine Bob Lee Swagger novel from Stephen Hunter. This one is especially intriguing because it advances an interesting and rather plausible scenario depicting the plot and the actual assassination of JFK. Good stuff. Recommend to anyone who loves a good mystery/thriller/action story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Larry Rogers | 2/13/2014

    " The parts of this novel that center on Billy Bob Swagger's analysis of the JFK assassination are pretty interesting. The parts that deal with the actual plot, written in the voice of the chief planner for the crime, slow down action 9strangely), and are written in a voice that is always irritating (beyond the crime). The end of the novel, when the two viewpoints come together, should have a greater impact, but doesn't. i enjoy Hunter's work, but this book bogs down at a critical point, though the technical assumptions about how the assassination occurred are compelling. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jonathan Snowden | 2/3/2014

    " Stephen Hunter has a theory about the Kennedy assassination. He brings his iconic Bob Lee Swagger into it so fans will be forced to read what should be a blogspot entry or three. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chuck | 1/30/2014

    " I can't resist a new thought or look at the JFK assassination. This one will be a treat for the conspiracy theorists. I thought the plot was excellent but while Mr. Hunter's style is smooth enough, he is one of those who seems to just like to hear himself write. He is verbose, oblique and shares way too much information and detail which does nothing for story development. He is also difficult to skim because sometimes he will drop in a piece of valuable info amongst his endless statistics, ballistics, etc. I also thought the climax was rather weak. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rancy Breece | 1/18/2014

    " Another Kennedy assisination book, only this time it's a work of fiction, not a breathless conspiracy theory. The main character, Swagger, runs across evidence, 50 years after the event, that suggests that Oswald was not soley behind the assisination. I'm not familiar with Stephen Hunter or the character he's written about in several of his books. Like most in this genre the plot, expecially the ending, is over-the-top and the hero outsized. What works is how Hunter eases the reader into the story; as the main character overcomes his doubts about the evidence suggesting that the Warren Report missed something, the reader becomes more intrigued. If you like thrillers, this has them in abundance. If you are open to the idea that there may be more to the Kennedy assisnation than meets the eye, "The Third Bullet" lays out a semi-plausable alternative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryce Giesler | 1/11/2014

    " Not as much action as some of the previous ones, but I liked the procedural nature of it. Also a plausible fiction for how the JFK assassination could have happened. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Catherine Lenzini | 1/7/2014

    " I am a JFK aficionado. I like to read as much as I can about his life, his presidency, or his assassination. This book does not disappoint! It has intrique, suspense, and likable characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tanya | 1/5/2014

    " Again, Bob Lee Swagger does not disappoint! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert James | 1/2/2014

    " The JFK section was fascinating. Unfortunately you had to slog through the Swagger section. I would give the JFK part 4 stars and the rest of the book only 2 stars. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 James | 12/31/2013

    " One of the most disappointing Swagger books ever. The author got too cute with who was Swaggers opponent. I skipped the entire middle of the book to get to the end. I basically hated this book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 11/29/2013

    " I've always liked the deep research that seems to go into Hunter's books, and this one is no exception. So authentic that you find yourself wondering how much is fantasy, and how much is true. Great read. Hope Swagger has some more left in him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joel Sandler | 11/23/2013

    " I liked the book, a well written conspiracy theory. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Darsey | 11/15/2013

    " I love Swagger, but this was not my favorite. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian Cuneo | 11/13/2013

    " Interesting concept, but slow pace until the last 100 pages. Overall, I enjoyed it but it but it was not my favorite Swagger book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Don Jenks | 9/7/2013

    " Unlike his other novels, this one is really drawn out. Still good but a lot of extra prose and duplication. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Indrid Cold | 9/6/2013

    " too long winded for my tastes = but a sensible "what if" for sure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eliott James | 6/26/2013

    " An interesting premise. The book is fairly well written and held my interest most of the way through. I would recommended it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nitin | 6/15/2013

    " Is it preposterous? Yes. Does it contain tremendous amounts of gun arcana? Sure. Is it a cracking good read in the style of Stephen Hunter? Hell yeah! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Matt Hurlbert | 4/13/2013

    " First 1/3 of it was pretty good... and then Hunter tried to incorporate a manifesto of one of his characters. It lost steam at that point and became a bit predictable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roger Smitter | 3/16/2013

    " The assassination of JFK will always intrigue us. The story of an alternative explanation seems plausible in this novel. The story line becomes too convoluted with multiple narrations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 2/7/2013

    " not bad, interesting twists. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Buster Mitchell | 1/27/2013

    " Another excellent Swagger story, just a tad slow getting started. Of course it ended before I wanted it to. "

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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

Buck Schirner’s professional career has primarily been on stage as a character actor. He is currently active in the theater scene in Philadelphia. Buck also appears in the independent film In the Woods.