All Stephen Hunter Books in Order – Reading Guide

Stephen Hunter’s name is instantly recognizable to any fan of the thriller genre. Hunter is the genius behind the renowned Bob Lee Swagger series, kickstarting his writing career with Point of Impact in 1993. Thirty years later, the series, known for its fast-paced action, daring heroes, and unexpected twists, is still beloved by fans across the world. 

All Stephen Hunter Books in Order - Reading Guide

Over the course of his career, Hunter has expanded the world of the Bob Lee Swagger series to incorporate the stories of his father and his son. As such, the best reading order for Hunter’s books can be a little confusing. While most of the books can be read in the publication order, there are a few exceptions to watch out for. Read on to discover the best reading order for Hunter’s thrilling novels!

Between a turbulent childhood and being drafted into the army, Hunter completed a degree in journalism at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. While serving in the army, Hunter wrote articles for the Pentagon News and went on to work at a copy desk for the Baltimore Sun.

Hunter enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, winning both the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award in the criticism category in 1988 and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2003. It was only later in life that Hunter turned to fiction writing and enjoyed near-immediate success.

Upon its publication, Point of Impact raced to the top of the bestseller lists, making Hunter a household name. Ever since he has enjoyed repeated success as he has penned several standalone novels in addition to expanding the world of Bob Lee Swagger. Not only have Hunter’s novels been translated into countless other languages and distributed across the globe, but several film and television adaptations have also been made of his work. 

To truly immerse yourself in the world of the Swagger men, it is best to combine each series into one overarching narrative. The novels all focus on a contained story, however, to really get to know Hunter’s now-famous characters, readers are encouraged to follow their journey from the beginning. Read on to learn how to lose yourself in Hunter’s world of deception, violence, and ambiguous morals.

All Stephen Hunter Books in Order

The Swagger Series

Point of Impact (1993)

Point of Impact (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 1)

After serving in Vietnam, Bob Lee Swagger is left bitter and isolated. So when a military organization offers Bob a mission that could save his country and revive his life, he doesn’t wait long enough to ask questions.

Bob’s miscalculation sees him on the run in Point of Impact as he becomes the scapegoat of a dark conspiracy that seeks to destroy America.

Dirty White Boys (1994)

Dirty White Boys: A Novel

The crown prince of the Dirty White Boys, Lamar, is desperate for revenge when he escapes prison alongside Odell and Richard. His warpath leads him back to Trooper Bud Pewtie, a man who should have died at Lamar’s hand years before. Caught in a battle for both honor and survival, only one man will make it out alive. 

Black Light (1996)

Black Light (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 2)

Desperate to unravel forty years of lies, Bob searches for the truth behind his father’s senseless murder in the gripping plot of Black Light. His grief will uncover a twisted conspiracy that weaves together the narratives and characters of Point of Impact and Dirty White Boys.

Time to Hunt (1998)

Time to Hunt (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 3)

Haunted by memories of Vietnam and the friends he lost, Bob tries to focus on the family he has been gifted with. But the ghosts from his past have followed him. A seemingly innocent family outing puts Bob and his beloved wife and daughter in the sights of a killer set on revenge. 

Time to Hunt forces Bob to reimmerse himself in the world of violence and treachery he was so eager to leave behind.

The Bullet Garden (2023)

The Bullet Garden: An Earl Swagger Novel

The Bullet Garden is a heart-pounding historical thriller that introduces readers to Earl Swagger, Bob’s heroic father, as he fights for survival on the blood-soaked battlefields of World War II. When he is entrusted with uncovering the identity of a traitor, Earl can’t trust anyone, not even his comrades. 

Hot Springs (2000)

Hot Springs (Earl Swagger Book 1)

Earl can’t stop the mounting body count when he’s tasked with tackling the hotbed of organized crime that is steadily taking over Hot Springs, Arkansas. Caught between memories of the war and impending fatherhood, Earl must fight to save Hot Springs before it’s too late and the home he has returned to becomes truly unrecognizable. 

Pale Horse Coming (2001)

Pale Horse Coming (Earl Swagger Book 2)

Pale Horse Coming is a chilling thriller that follows Earl’s mission into the town of Thebes, which hosts one of the most feared prisons in the country. When Sam, an old friend, disappears while investigating the prison, Earl is duty-bound to follow him. But entering Thebes will reveal a secret that will scar Earl for the rest of his days.

Havana (2003)

Havana: An Earl Swagger Novel

Amid the Cold War, Havana is overrun with gambling, hard drugs, and every vice known to man. Fidel Castro, a young revolutionary with support from the Soviet Union, threatens to end this corrupt utopia. Until Earl is tasked with killing him.

The 47th Samurai (2007)

The 47th Samurai: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 4)

The 47th Samurai takes Bob into unknown territory as he travels to Tokyo to fulfill the request of one of his father’s comrades. The simple task of delivering a beloved sword quickly spirals into a bloody fight for survival that will force Bob to adopt new tactics.

Night of Thunder (2008)

Night of Thunder: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Series Book 5)

When his daughter’s life is threatened, nothing will turn Bob’s hand from violence. Picking up the threads of the mystery that put his daughter in danger in the first place, Bob is determined to uncover the truth and kill anyone who gets in his way in the Night of Thunder.

I, Sniper (2009)

I, Sniper: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 6)

The perfect crime rouses suspicion from the FBI and requires an expert opinion. The plot of I, Sniper sees Bob take on his most lethal adversary yet, as the evidence reveals a man equal to Bob in both intelligence and skill who is set on revenge.

Dead Zero (2010)

Dead Zero: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 7)

Dead Zero follows Ray Cruz, a deadly sniper who was forced to bear witness to the deaths of his whole team. Set on vengeance, Cruz finds himself on a path to his deadliest opponent yet, Bob Lee Swagger. But the more the men learn of each other, the more they question their opposition and the officials giving them orders.

Soft Target (2011)

Soft Target: A Thriller (Ray Cruz)

In a mall packed with 10,000 people, Ray thought he’d left his days of violence behind him. Until twelve people reveal they have no intention of shopping and are instead in the mall to kill innocent civilians. Soft Target is Hunter at his finest as his reluctant hero must gather his limited resources to save the day.

The Third Bullet (2013)

The Third Bullet: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 8)

The Third Bullet chronicles Bob’s investigation into a crime that shook America and left a stain on its history – JFK’s assassination. As Bob learns more about that fateful day, he begins to question the morals of the country he has spent his life fighting for.

Sniper’s Honor (2014)

Sniper's Honor: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Novels Book 9)

Sniper’s Honor offers readers the perfect blend of historical fiction and action thriller as Bob and Kathy Reilly investigate World War II’s greatest sniper and her sudden disappearance. Pulling on the threads of a Russian conspiracy quickly puts Bob and Kathy in the sights of a deadly killer.

G-Man (2017)

G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger Book 10)

Tracing the Swagger family back to the Great Depression, Hunter introduces readers to Charles Swagger, a World War I hero tasked with stopping Baby Face Nelson, a notorious bank robber. Told between alternating timelines, G-Man follows both Charles and Bob and reveals hidden secrets of the Swagger family history.

Game of Snipers (2019)

Game of Snipers (Bob Lee Swagger)

When a distressed mother begs Bob to track down the sniper who killed her son, he can’t refuse. But Bob’s investigation quickly spirals out of control, becoming an obsession that threatens his life in the Game of Snipers.

Targeted (2022)

Targeted (Bob Lee Swagger Novel Book 12)

Taken hostage and forced to protect people who would see him imprisoned, Bob must rely on his instincts and shooting skills to ensure that everyone makes it out alive. Targeted is a thrilling novel that will grip readers from the first page as Bob is forced to reckon with his past.

Standalone Novels

The Master Sniper (1980)

The Master Sniper

Armed with a sniper’s rifle, there’s no target that Repp cannot reach. Neither German agents nor the Allied Forces can stop The Master Sniper when he is determined to complete one last mission. 

The Second Saladin (1982)

The Second Saladin: A Novel

Paul Chardy and Ulu Beg fought side by side in the Middle East until Chardy was captured and Beg was betrayed by his own people. Years later, the men come face to face, but now, they’re on opposing sides. A tale about the conflicting notions of duty and honor, The Second Saladin is a must-read.

The Spanish Gambit (1985)

The Spanish Gambit

The Spanish Gambit transports readers back in time to the Spanish Civil War, as lovers Robert and Sylvia track down an old friend who has betrayed his country to become a Russian spy. 

Target (1985)


The kidnapping of his mother, Donna, forces Chris to discover who his father really is when his past returns with a vengeance in Target.

The Day Before Midnight (1989)

The Day Before Midnight: A Novel

Hurled into a plot with deadly global consequences, Jack quickly realizes he is one small pawn in a much larger game. Time and the chance for escape rapidly slip away from him in the twisted narrative of The Day Before Midnight

Stephen Longacre’s Greatest Match (2014)

Stephen Longacre's Greatest Match

Threatened with being disowned and cut off from the luxury he has enjoyed since he was born, Stephen must finally take life seriously and prove himself to his father in Stephen Longacre’s Greatest Match

I, Ripper (2015)

I, Ripper: A Novel

Told between the opposing narratives of Jack the Ripper and the journalist determined to reveal his identity, I, Ripper is a tale of obsession and unimaginable violence.

Basil’s War (2021)

Basil's War: A WWII Spy Thriller

In Basil’s War, Basil St. Florian is tasked with recovering a manuscript that promises to save millions of lives and end the war years before anyone had anticipated. The only problem is, he’s being hunted by both the S.S. and the Abwehr. Basil’s story was initially featured in a short story collection and was titled Citadel.

Final Thoughts

Stephen Hunter has been hailed as one of the greatest writers to ever contribute to the thriller genre, and for good reason. With twisting plots and ruthless heroes, readers are sure to be entertained as they work their way through the history of the Swagger family. A flare for historical fiction and personal experience in the US Army colors each of Hunter’s novels and sets them apart from other thriller novels. Hunter’s eclectic list of novels is a must-read for any fan of the thriller genre. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Stephen Hunter first start writing?

Hunter’s writing career began when he was serving in the army. He regularly contributed to the Pentagon News and joined several other newspapers after completing his service. Hunter’s first novel, The Master Sniper, was published in 1980, however, his career as a novelist did not take off until the publication of Point of Impact in 1993.

How many Bob Lee Swagger books are there?

There are currently thirteen Bob Lee Swagger novels, however, his story is connected to many of Hunter’s other novels. Several of Hunter’s books chronicle the adventures of Bob’s father, Earl, and his grandfather, Charles.

What newspapers did Stephen Hunter write for?

After writing for the Pentagon News, Hunter went on to work for the Baltimore Sun. Though Hunter worked with the Baltimore Sun for years, he only started to gain recognition and popularity when he transferred to The Washington Post in 1997.

Where is Stephen Hunter from?

Hunter was born in Missouri to Virginia Ricker Hunter and Charles Frances Hunter, but the family later moved to Illinois.

Are there film adaptations of Stephen Hunter’s novels?

Yes, in 2007 Mark Mahlberg starred in an adaptation of Point of Impact that was renamed Shooter. The film had mixed success at the box office, failing to achieve the acclaim the book had once been celebrated for.

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Colton Cowie