cover image Soft Target

Soft Target

Stephen Hunter. Simon & Schuster, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4391-3870-0

Former Marine sniper Ray Cruz, the 42-year-old half-Asian son of Bob Lee Swagger, who was introduced in 2010’s Dead Zero, plays a central role in Hunter’s fast-paced thriller. The Friday after Thanksgiving, terrorists begin their attack on America, the Mall, a huge shopping complex outside Minneapolis, by shooting dead the man playing Santa Claus. The terrorists manage to lock down the mall using sophisticated technology and drive more than 1,000 frenzied shoppers into a central holding area. Among those trapped on upper levels are Cruz and Lavelva Oates, a child care worker. Douglas Obobo, the head of the Minnesota State Police, who was born the “son of a Kenyan graduate student at Harvard and a Radcliffe anthropology major,” wants to avoid violence, while Mike Jefferson, the “rogue state police commander” who leads the SWAT team, pushes an aggressive assault plan. As this straightforward adventure tale builds to its fearsome climax, it’s the actions of Cruz and Oates to thwart the terrorists that captivate. (Dec.)