cover image The Bullet Garden: An Earl Swagger Novel

The Bullet Garden: An Earl Swagger Novel

Stephen Hunter. Atria/Bestler, $28.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-9821-6976-3

Bestseller Hunter’s superb fourth Earl Swagger novel (after 2003’s Havana) details the sniper’s origin story. It’s 1944, and Marine Gunnery Sgt. Earl Swagger, a veteran of three Pacific island campaigns—Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Tarawa—is at Parris Island training recruits how to shoot their new M1 Garand rifles. In Europe, Gen. Omar Bradley’s First Army is bogged down just days after D-Day in what are called the “bullet gardens” of France—lush green meadows laced throughout with almost impenetrable hedgerows. Because German snipers are taking a heavy toll on Allied troops, especially at night, Swagger is called to London to join the OSS under Col. David K.E. Bruce to develop an anti-sniper campaign. Several side plots add intriguing complications, including a romance with Bruce’s beautiful assistant, WAC Lt. Millie Fenwick, and the unearthing of a surprising traitor. All the elements slot neatly into place in the end, particularly Swagger’s ingenious solution to the problem of the German snipers. Terrific writing, amusing literary references, fascinating gun lore, and intense action scenes help make this one of Hunter’s best. Established fans and newcomers alike will be enthralled. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM Partners. (Jan.)