God’s Little Acre of Asphalt

Today’s Washington Post (October 1) ran my review of Night of Thunder, Stephen Hunter’s new Bob Lee Swagger novel. Even those who haven’t read previous books in the series may know the character from the film Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg, an adaptation of Hunter’s book Point of Impact, and in this installment, Bob the Nailer finds himself and his family involved in a crime caper in the heart of NASCAR country. I think my own aim is true when it comes to my complaints about the new novel, especially about its reliance on cartoonish, outlandish stereotypes for its villains, supposedly “the Special Forces of Southern Crime” but really a bunch of inept, inbred hillbillies that would likely have made even Erskine Caldwell blush. Still, it’s interesting to see the distance between critical assessment and popular appetites: Already Hunter’s new novel is already among the top five books on Amazon’s action & adventure bestsellers and top ten in mysteries & thrillers.

Oh, well…. No accounting for taste, I guess.

(Or wait: I guess top five and top ten do represent accounting of some kind, don’t they?)

— Art Taylor

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