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Hunter employs a couple of conceits in this book that serve the story well. First of all, Swagger is drawn into this investigation when a novelist in Baltimore who knows quite a lot about guns and who writes thrillers is killed after turning up some information tied to Dallas in 1963. (Hunter, a novelist who knows quite a lot about guns and writes thrillers, lives in Baltimore.) The writer was supposedly killed by a hit-and-run driver but the man’s wife doesn’t believe it. Swagger gets intrigued due to the ballistics of the JFK assassination and the story takes off.
Can’t say too much about Hunter’s solution to the JFK assassination. What I will say is that he’s come up with an ingenious alternative explanation that fits with the Warren Commission explanation. He does not vary from the bare-bones ‘truth’ set down by the Commission, other than to add a second gunman who shot The Third Bullet.
In that narrow scope (pardon the pun), the book works very well. If you’re looking for a novel that incorporates all of the most recent revelations about Dealy Plaza, you’ll not find them here. The second conceit is to present the memoir of the man behind the assassination as a running history to Swagger’s investigation. It’s a good way to get the villain’s full story and explanation into the novel. In a way, it is an alternative to the two-track time frame often employed. As Bob get’s closer to the answers about Dallas, the memoir gets closer to the day of the assassination and afterward. Needless to say, Bob is up against a cunning enemy – but, of course, Bob’s the best there is. He’s not called The Nailer for nothin’.