Soft Target

Soft Target

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
A follow-up to "Dead Zero" finds retired marine sergeant Ray Cruz confronting a band of terrorists who have taken over the Mall of America, where they begin to systematically execute more than one thousand hostages.

& Taylor

A follow-up to Dead Zero finds retired marine sergeant Ray Cruz confronting a band of terrorists who have taken over the Mall of America, where they begin to systematically execute more than 1,000 hostages. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Gunfight.
Black Friday. America's largest shopping mall, suburban Minneapolis. 3:00 pm. Twelve gunmen open fire in the mall corridors, and take more than a thousand hostage. Cruz, a retired Marine sniper, is taken captive along with his fiancâee and her family. Hehas a plan-- now all he needs is a gun...

Simon and Schuster
Black Friday America’s largest shopping mall Suburban Minneapolis 3:00 P.M.

Ten thousand people jam the aisles, the corridors, the elevators, and the escalators of America, the Mall—a giant Rubik’s Cube of a structure with its own amusement park located in the spacious center atrium. Of those people, nine thousand nine hundred and eighty-eight have come to shop. The other twelve have come to kill.

Stephen Hunter’s hyper-drive, eighth-gear new thriller, Soft Target, chronicles the day when the unthinkable happens: twelve gunmen open fire in the mall corridors, driving the pack before them. Those on the upper floors take cover or get out any way they can; but within a few minutes the gunmen have herded more than a thousand hostages into the amusement park.

Ray Cruz, one of the heroes of Hunter’s last bestseller, Dead Zero, is in the mall with his fiancée and her family. The retired Marine sniper thought he was done with stalking and killing—but among the trapped thousands, he’s the only one with a plan and the guts to confront the self-proclaimed “Brigade Mumbai.” Now all he needs is a gun.

FBI Sniper Dave McElroy has a gun. But positioned on the roof of the vast building, looking down through one of its thickly paned Great Lakes–shaped skylights, and without explosives or fuses—or the go-ahead from his superiors—he is effectively cut off from his targets and forced into the role of witness to the horror unfolding below.

Set during the four hours of the terrifying event, the story follows both hostages and gunmen, detailing the complex strategic police response, the full-press media saturation coverage, even the politics of SWAT as both the Minnesota State Police and the FBI struggle to control, confront, and ultimately defuse the crisis.

Having learned the lessons of Columbine, the feds believe that immediate action is the only solution. But Douglas Obobo, the charismatic and ambitious commandant of the state police, orders cooperation, tolerance, communication, and empathy for the gunmen. He feels that with his superior negotiating skills, he can make contact with the shooters and gently nudge them into surrender. But what if their goal all along has been unparalleled massacre—and they’re only waiting for prime time?

With unrelenting suspense and vivid scenes of violence and chaos in the center of a terror-crazed afternoon in Middle America, thriller master Stephen Hunter takes us into the belly of the softest of soft targets.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2011.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781439138700
Characteristics: 256 p. ; 24 cm.


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Jul 22, 2015

After reading Dead Zero last week, this novel was quite a disappointment. I have to agree with the earlier commenter who suggested it probably only took Hunter a week to write. I did enjoy the metaphorical Colonel Obobo character though, who "...hadn't really done anything." "His career was primarily a phenomenon of showing up, giving speeches, accepting awards, then moving up to the next level..." I just can't put my finger on which present day political figure he bears resemblance to!

Dec 24, 2014

Terrorists take over a mall in Minnesota creating a hostage situation with Ray Cruz is trapped inside. The latest Swagger family member takes it on himself to take out the bad guys. Stephen Hunter’s usual twists, turns, and gun details are present. There’s no shortage of action and a thundering climax. The way that the hostage situation is handled is a metaphor for how the US is being run at present. I don’t think President Obama would like this novel.

Jun 21, 2013

Stephen Hunter has written several good female characters in this novel, in answer to previous critiques about his lack of them. Lavelva Oates is as brave as they come and it's terrific that she learned strategy from action video games. Nikki Swagger is outstanding; observant, quick-thinking and funny. Molly Chan will be a good match for Ray Cruz - bright, resourceful and cool in a crisis. The best one of all is Molly's hmong mother who has lived through so much brutality that nothing surprises or scares her anymore. I got several good laughs out of this story, such as, "what kind of a McGyver stunt is this ?" and "what kind of ancestors do you have to answer to ? Are they from China ?" "No, worse, from Arkansas."

abkeller Dec 02, 2012

This novel grips the reader by the throat from the very first page and holds him on a mind bending razor’s edge until the final page is turned. We are asked to delve into the mind of the smart criminal, perhaps the most difficult assailant to predict and understand.

Disgruntled Andrew Nicks has been bailed out of school after school by his wealthy father. With his father’s prestige and power, young Nicks can have virtually anything he asks for - and they allow him his excesses. Despite their efforts, however, Nicks seems fascinated with violence. Somehow, he manages to get a job in a game store in America, the Mall, one of the largest collections of stores and shops under one roof. This puts him in contact with the Imam, a young man who dreams of the jihad, his one way ticket to Allah, where he will enjoy the ultimate pleasures of the universe, forever.

Together, Andrew and the Imam manage to smuggle twelve Somali warriors into the U.S. through Canada and equip them with enough weapons to begin a small war. They spring their trap on Black Friday, when the Mall is filled with bargain hungry shoppers. While Christmas music drifts delightfully in the festive air, the Somalis first kill Santa and then open fire on the shoppers. In panic, the crowds flee for the exits, but over a thousand people are still trapped inside the complex, being held at gunpoint.

One of the shoppers trapped on the upper level is retired Marine Sergeant Ray Cruz, one of the best snipers in his field. Bravely, Ray ventures out to assess the situation and finds an unlikely partner in Lavelva, a large African American woman used to dealing with street toughs in all shapes and sizes.

While the police and FBI battle for jurisdiction outside and politics war with Emmy award-driven press eager for a scoop, snipers take positions on the roof of the huge complex. What are the group’s demands? If they accede to their wishes, all will be well and the hostages might be freed without any further bloodshed. What a political coup that would be! The only trouble is, Andrew Nicks isn’t interested in having his demands met and freeing any hostages. He’s in it for the joy of the Game!

This is one of the most fast-paced and frightening books I’ve ever read. It’s also delightfully studded with great characters, the kind any reader can really sink his teeth into. Every twist and turn yields a new line of thinking, another aspect of the twisted mind of this killer. So come, open the cover and jump into the game.

barefootboy Nov 07, 2012

Stephen Hunter has written some good books. Unfortunately this is not one of them. A big disappointment and waste of time.

Jun 21, 2012

A very topical and scary novel !
Everyone who loves big malls should read this - this scenario is inevitable in today's terrorist infected world ! --( Sure, Ray Cruz is not 'Bob the Nailer', but every book can't be about one hero or we'd soon get bored. )

Jun 10, 2012

Continued excellence by Hunter!

May 22, 2012

Weak storyline, weak characters, and probably took a week to write.

Mar 01, 2012

Good...just can't seem to get as intrested in Ray Cruz as Bob Lee and Earl Swagger. Maybe because their stories cover more geographic area than this one.., different generations...

Feb 12, 2012

This is his first disappointing novel. Not fresh in any way.


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