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The Third Bullet

The Third Bullet

A Bob Lee Swagger Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author STEPHEN HUNTER takes on one of the most shocking crimes in American history when his celebrated hero ex-Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger follows the smallest hint of a lead to its staggering conclusion—about the fateful third bullet that ended the life of President John F. Kennedy. . . .
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  • Pocket Books | 
  • 576 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451640229 | 
  • October 2013
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Stephen Hunter on his Investigative Novel, THE THIRD BULLET

Stephen Hunter on his decision to write and background behind THE THIRD BULLET, a Bob Lee Swagger investigative novel on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

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Reading Group Guide



A Conversation with Stephen Hunter

Q: The Third Bullet has some roots in the very first Bob Lee Swagger novel you wrote twenty years ago called Point of Impact. Tell us a little about the relationship between the two books.

A: Point of Impact was a very tough book to write—one problem was that it was inspired by and set to be about the JFK assassination. When I started it everyone believed in conspiracy. Halfway through I read Case Closed by Gerald Posner and I immediately ceased believing in conspiracy. Thus I was halfway through a novel whose whole intellectual premise had just been destroyed. So I patched and changed, and abridged and diddled, and in the end separated Point of Impact from the JFK assassination. But I am sloppy and I missed stuff, lots of stuff. Twenty years passed, new ideas came to me about this and that, and suddenly I saw an opportunity to do the JFK book of my dreams. I had a researcher go back and document all the connections to JFK that remained in Point of Impact, and I used those as a foundation for The Third Bullet.

Q: How did you connect the two plots?

A: The main problem I had with Point of Impact was the villain; he was too broad, encompassing both Special Forces experience and Washington intelligence culture smarts. I couldn't get it to work. (I had obviously never heard of Richard Armitage!) Late in the process, I broke see more

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About the Author

Stephen Hunter
Photograph by Kelly Campbell

Stephen Hunter

Stephen Hunter has written eighteen novels. The retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, he has also published two collections of film criticism and a nonfiction work, American Gunfight. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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