Front Sight

Front Sight

by Stephen Hunter

novella collection in the Earl Swagger series
published 2024

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In The Night Train, Charles Swagger is on the hunt for notorious bank robber Baby Face Nelson when he traces a tip to the Chicago stock yards. While there, he’s brutally assaulted and discovers that the madman who attacked him is involved in a nearby narcotics ring with plans to spread its new drug to the residents of the disenfranchised 7th District of Chicago. Worse, this is no ordinary drug—it makes some users happy, drives others insane, and kills many of the rest. Will Charles be able to stop the ring before it’s too late? Or is he in over his head among the dark streets of Chicago?

Earl Swagger investigates a violent bank robbery in Johnny Tuesday that left two dead and a fortune missing in small-town Maryland. At every turn, however, he’s met with silence and hostility from the townsfolk, which makes sense when he uncovers municipal corruption, working-class exploitation, gang politics, jaded aristocrats, scheming gamblers, a hitman, a femme fatale. And a whole bunch of men with guns. Luckily, Earl has brought his own guns in this unputdownable noir mystery.

Finally, in Five Dolls for the Gut Hook, a thirty-two-year-old Bob Lee Swagger is back from Vietnam nearly broken over good men lost for nothing. He’s turned hard down that whiskey road to hell. But one afternoon he’s wakened from his nightmares by two men with a problem. As nearby Hot Springs tries to retool its image from gambling paradise to family resort, a butcher has begun to prey on the city’s young women, a figure straight out of a horror movie. Hot Springs Homicide is baffled. “I’m a sniper,” says Bob, “not a detective.”

“But,” comes the reply, “you are the son and grandson of two of the greatest detectives this state has ever produced.” On that premise alone, Bob takes up the hunt for a killer who not only kills but desecrates. Using his sniper’s mind, Swagger is able to see things others have missed, drawing ever closer to a showdown. But equally, we understand, Bob Lee Swagger is hunting his own salvation.

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