I review books for Amazon.com and when I went there to enter my opinions on Stephen Hunter’s “Soft Target” I found hundreds of critiques already up, so many that Amazon was not inviting any more. Undaunted, I enter my plaint here:
I have long enjoyed the exploits of Hunter’s tough, laconic gun-toting heroes Earl Swagger and his son Bob (the Nailer) Lee Swagger because their personae are so darned clear. They do what they do and are smart about it and the bad guys have no chance against them in the end. These stories are so direct they are refreshing.
“Soft Target” features Bob Lee’s illegitimate son Ray Cruz as the solver of a crisis brought on by jihadists in a giant shopping mall in Minnesota (is there really such a fantastic place there? Its layout mimics the United States map with all its areas named after rivers and states). A thousand hostages’ lives are at stake, and hereby enters Colonel Douglas Obobo, the commandant of the state police. Hunter depicts him as handsome, so well-spoken as to be beloved by the media, and absolutely devoid of any combat experience.
Obobo is always cautious, his civilian advisor Mr. Renfro always nearby whispering in his ear. Obobo talks a grand, reasoning plan to contain the crisis. He keeps his SWAT team harnessed while its men sneak into firing position anyway and, together with Ray Cruz, save the day. To the last, Obobo relies on his media charm and finally makes a quiet, unresolved exit from the book.
But Hunter has made his point. It is obvious Obobo is patterned after Barack Obama. And it is obvious that Hunter despises him. I looked him up on Wikipedia, which states several things about him that I had already guessed. I have copied the final two paragraphs of the Wikipedia writeup to the right of this blog.