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Discussion Thread for Point of Impact – October Book September 30, 2007

Posted by Retired Geezer in Man Laws.

Greetings Funseekers, we have a kick-ass book for you to read this month.

This book was one of the first books I read by Stephen Hunter. I didn’t think I would like it at first but after the second chapter I was hooked. It’s the first book in the series about Bob the Nailer, a Vietnam era sniper, who retired with without the Medal of Honor (which he richly deserved) back to his home in Arkansas. It’s probably one of the most exciting books I’ve read. There are probably 5 books in the series, which covers Bob and his father’s lives. The books were not written in a chronological order but they all tie together. I would like to go back and re-read them in order someday, just like I did with the Narnia books.

There are Good Guys, Bad Guys, Terrorists and Lawyers, but I repeat myself. These books have it all; great characters, believable dialog, interesting plots and satisfying conclusions.

Ladies, don’t fear you will be overwhelmed with Testosterone, Mrs. Geezer truly enjoyed the book and she doesn’t normally read novels. After we both read it, we listened to it on Books-on-CD, driving to Vegas.

I know some of you are saying, “But Geezer, I saw the movie made from the book and verily it sucketh”.

The movie sucked? No, Duhh… or in Español “Si, no”.

Give it a shot and you might end up like me, unable to pass up any of Stephen Hunter’s books.


1. Retired Geezer - September 30, 2007

Maybe Michael or one of the Big Brain dudes can fix my spelling of Espanol.

2. BrewFan - September 30, 2007

Ask and ye shalt receive*

*I heard that in church this morning

3. Cathy - September 30, 2007

Acquired our copies. What I’m hearing has be eager to get started. Thanks.

4. Michael - September 30, 2007

Am I my brother’s keeper?*

*I heard that in church this morning.

5. skinbad - October 1, 2007

My former boss passed this on to me after reading it and said he thought I would like it. I did. I’ll read it again. Maybe I can get some tips on windage if I get that cow elk tag.

6. Mr Minority - October 1, 2007

I just finished rereading Point of Impact and Time to Hunt for the 3rd time. And I do have all his other books. I like his style of writing, the historical background he always weaves into the story, and his character developments. Basically Hunter is one of my favorite authors.

And yeah, I saw the movie, it did the book no justice.

7. HayZeus - October 1, 2007

Yeah I enjoyed Point of Impact back in the day. All but the hackneyed sex scene anyway. 😛

8. Michael - October 1, 2007

Um, HZ, on what page does that hackneyed sex scene start?

I’m just asking so I can avoid it.

9. HayZeus - October 2, 2007

I can’t remember an exact page number off the top of my head (too many years ago) but it was mostly alluded to by metaphor anyway. One might miss it if they weren’t looking for it. Just remember that when you hit the bits about “falling through all of the floors” and the “oh my God” and try to enjoy!

10. HayZeus - October 2, 2007

Note to the grammar police: my mangling of the English language is intentional. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

11. HayZeus - October 2, 2007

Wait, did I say try to enjoy? I meant try to skip over it.

Because we all know that’s the way you roll, Michael.

12. Retired Geezer - October 4, 2007

Hey! It’s HayZeus!
Welcome back, Dude.

Was anybody else as pleasantly surprised as me at the way Chapter 1 ended?

13. Retired Geezer - October 4, 2007

I like his style of writing, the historical background he always weaves into the story,

Yeah, I really thought it was funny when one of the characters punches out Ernest Hemingway. (in another book)

14. Sobek - October 5, 2007

I got the book last night. If I weren’t reading a draft Asset Purchase Agreement, I’d get started.

15. Retired Geezer - October 5, 2007

Could we put a link in the blogroll for *this* post, as the October Book discussion?

That way we keep all the original comments.

16. Michael - October 5, 2007

Will do.

17. Retired Geezer - October 5, 2007

*Geezer chuckles to himself because Michael put the link in for “Point of View”, which he will undoubtedly change because He Has The Power.*

18. Sobek - October 5, 2007

I liked the ending of Chapter 1, Geezer. I’m about 50 pages in. Some of the descriptions about gun stuff is over my head. For example, what’s the difference between center fire and rim fire?

19. skinbad - October 5, 2007

RG or Dave will probably beat me to it, but center fires have a primer in the middle of the base of the casing. The firing pin hits the primer, the primer ignites the powder. Rim fire gets hit on the edge of the casing, no primer. 22s are rim fire. Anything else I can think of isn’t. The experts can fix my misused words now.

20. Sobek - October 5, 2007

Is there an advantage to one or the other?

21. Sobek - October 5, 2007

And what ignites the powder if there is no primer?

22. Retired Geezer - October 5, 2007

No, you pretty well covered it, except just to elaborate, the 22s are not reload able because the primer is on the edge of the shell.

As I was reading the first chapter, I was thinking I wasn’t going to like the Protagonist but I changed my mind when all the facts were revealed.

Just skip over the arcane Gun Stuff, it’s not really important to the story which is mostly a character study.

23. Retired Geezer - October 5, 2007

The advantage to centerfire shells is that you can reload them with the Primer of your choice. Some people like hotter primers for different powders. There are Federal, Winchester, CCI and more.

It’s all just details and not really germane to the storyline.

24. skinbad - October 5, 2007


This says the rim of the rimfire cartridge is hollow and has “primer compound” in it and when the rim is crushed it ignites the powder.

I don’t think you can really tell a guy teaching himself Farsi for fun to ignore the arcane stuff.

25. Sobek - October 5, 2007


(Has nothing to do with what you just said, but fun to yell)

26. Retired Geezer - October 5, 2007


That is the actual sound a rimfire primer makes when the power ignites.

Just sayin’

27. Sobek - October 5, 2007

It’s Farsi for rabbit. Just sayin’.

28. Retired Geezer - October 6, 2007

Skinbad, that was an interesting link at #24.

29. Retired Geezer - October 6, 2007

This thread is now linked on Stephen Hunter’s website.

I’m honored.


30. Sobek - October 7, 2007

Hunter thinks this is a book of the month blog. That made me laugh so hard I spilled tapioca all over myself.

31. daveintexas - October 7, 2007

Rimfire is what you get after eating a bowl of Dave’s Afterburner Chili.


32. RussianSexiGirls - October 9, 2007

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33. daveintexas - October 9, 2007

too funny

34. Pupster - October 9, 2007

anal end lesbians = russian rimfire

good to know

35. skinbad - October 9, 2007

Download FREE my erotic end

Don’t get an offer like that every day.

36. Michael's Review of "Point of Impact" - October 13, 2007



Plot: Excellent example of the genre. Some of the plot devices were blatantly predictable, but still satisfying. We knew early on, for example, that there would be a climactic long-range kill by Nick Memphis at the very end of the book. We were obviously being set up for it. But it was still gratifying when it happened.

Characters: Not flat, but not fully developed into real people either. In my opinion, Dr. David Dobbler was by far the most interesting and best developed character. Dobbler was clearly more than a stereotyped personality. I’m thinking that the author, Stephen Hunter, has had some personal exposure to a shrink.

Writing: Pretty Good. For example, pretty good descriptions of the Arkansas outback. The dialogue was generally OK. Cathy liked the fact that Bob referred to Nick as “Pork.” On the other hand, this book has the worst obligatory sex scene ever. Conversations between Bob or Nick and their prospective girlfriends were consistently silly. I got the impression that Hunter might still be a virgin. Maybe that’s why he can do a convincing description of a shrink.

Cool Reference: Page 567. The inheritors of Lon Scott’s estate had “little use” for some fired .264 caliber bullets from the 1960’s that he kept in his safe deposit box. I think the suggestion is that Lon killed Kennedy in the same way that he killed Archbishop Lopez, with used ammunition intended to implicate a dupe. The ammunition in his safe deposit box came from Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle.

Overall: This book delivers on what it purports to be — a page-turner that keeps you absorbed while on an airplane or at the beach.

My only real observation about this book is to point out a trend towards highly technical arcana in thrillers. I first noticed this with Tom Clancy in “The Hunt for Red October,” which offered a tremendous amount of information about submarine technology and warfare.

Here, the technical arcana revolves around the ballistics, equipment, training, and psychology necessary for long-range shooting. Aside from being interesting, the detailed information performs a literary function. It lends credibility to the story which the plot otherwise does not deserve. In this book, for example, the lectures on ballistics function to mask some of the incredibly improbable plot contrivances.

For example, consider Swagger’s highly unlikely dive through a fourth-story window, after being shot twice at point blank range, where he lands on his feet with sufficient energy to disarm an FBI agent, run away, and hang onto a log while he floats 50 miles down the Mississippi. I would have a hard time believing Batman could do that. Hunter needed a lot of banked credibility in order to get us to swallow that escape. The technical discourses gave him that credibility. Following the escape, Hunter basically apologizes for this wildly unlikely episode by offering technical arcana about dated police ammo where the slug does not reliably mushroom. The scene where the bad guys shoot a cow is fundamentally an apology for the most ridiculous aspect of the plot. Hunter kills that cow in order to reestablish his credibility, and set you up for the improbabilities of the final gun battle.

The courtroom gimmick at the end of the book is another example. It depends on us believing that Bob Lee noticed, at the very beginning of the book, that a single spent hand-loaded brass cartridge did not look quite right. This is highly improbable, if not impossible, but the immersion in shooting arcana, and Bob’s mastery of it, helps us to buy it.

Thanks to Geezer for selecting this book. It was fun.

37. Sobek - October 13, 2007

On page 89, I love the verb “tickety-ticked.”

38. Cathy - October 13, 2007

I can just hear Mark Wahlberg call Nick “Pork.”

I anticipated what was going to happen five steps ahead of my reading, but I still enjoyed this book very much. I had a hard time putting it down.

I’m glad it was a happy ending, and that even the Doc got out of it with a chance for a fresh start.

I cried when Bob’s beagle died, and thought of Dave’s dog.

I didn’t understand any of the gun talk, but I admit it was kinda sexy.

39. Retired Geezer - October 14, 2007

*rolls in from Elk Camp*

Howdy and thanks for the excellent review from Michael.

I have 260 IB comments on my RSS feed to wade through.

I’ll catch up tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here’s one of the pictures we took during the rain

40. Russ from Winterset - October 14, 2007

Michael, the part of the book that really strained credibility in my opinion was the bad guys reusing fired bullets to make a long range shot.

Could you go out to the sand behind a target, dig up a slug, and use it again? Yeah, but not for a long-range shot. Ballistics for those 500 to 1000 yard shots require perfection in the bullets used. Hell, some bullets manufactured with modern quality control features can’t be relied upon to make this sort of shot – but a RECYCLED bullet can do the job?

I liked the offhand reference to the “.264 bullets”. It was a throwaway line that makes you think, and it takes some ballistic knowledge to figure it out. An “easter egg” for the readers, if you will.

Other than that, I thought the book was good. It’s obvious that Hunter isn’t personally knowledgeable about firearms, but he did go out and grill enough experts to make this book realistic. I really liked the outraged editorials written after the Archbishop’s shooting, complete with massive errors about shooting and ballistics. Almost “ripped from the headlines”.

41. Sobek - October 14, 2007

Just finished.


I liked the book a lot, in spite of its general predictability (and I usually suck at spotting plot twists, so when I do I know it’s a real gimme). As Michael said, the arcana was great to give the whole thing a strong sense of realism.

There are two points in the book where I agreed with the villains. Someone really does have to do the hard thing, sometimes. And an action which costs lives in the short run but saves more lives in the long run is generally preferable. Obviously Shreck and Payne twisted those principles, but that doesn’t make them less true.

I wonder if the book recognized that fact when Swagger destroyed the tape — he saw the past was past, that the best course for the future was reconciliation. If so, it’s a bit of a reach, because (a) Swagger very clearly does not care about El Salvador or the geopolitical consequences of his actions, and (b) his own stated motives were more about payback than anything.

Finally, Payne’s and Shreck’s deaths seemed entirely too quick and easy. I would have liked to see them rot in jail.

42. mesablue - October 14, 2007

You’ll fit right in.

[Note from Site Administration: Mesa was responding to some silly BSDM porn spam that I nuked.]

43. Retired Geezer - October 15, 2007

I’m glad that most of you liked the book. I wouldn’t say it was his best novel but it was the first one I read and it made quite an impression.

Russ, that was a good catch about the “Easter Egg for Readers”.

44. Cathy - October 16, 2007

Thanks, RG. I’m glad I read the book and now I won’t bother with the movie, The Shooter. There is no way it could compare.

45. Retired Geezer - October 17, 2007

Thanks, Cathy. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t one that you would have picked to read on your own.

I think you were probably surprised that you enjoyed it.

46. orencePen - October 17, 2007

I’m always interested in any new really really good books. I haven’t really come across any recently. Do any of you know of any?
I also read that this month a book called Nixon and Mao was going to be released, but I don’t know much about it. I also heard that The Bounty Hunter will be released soon.

47. Retired Geezer - October 18, 2007

If you like Crime Fiction with good characters and excellent plots, try anything by Robert Crais.

48. Sobek - October 18, 2007

Is anyone still working on this one? If not, can we get a preview of what’s on deck for November?

49. kevlarchick - October 18, 2007

It’s only October…oh, it’s the 18th already. I’m going to look for it at the library next week. Please move on without me.

50. skinbad - October 18, 2007

Let’s see, here’s the original “schedule”: Geoff and Mrs. P and WP (if he made it out of Bangkok on the garbage skow). Any of you interested? If you’re too busy or not feeling it, that’s fine. We can come up with an alternative plan.

August–Dave, Eddie (historical/military)
September–Kevlar, Lipstick (back to school, something good for the brain)
October–R.G., Russ (something fun)
November–Geoff, Mrs. Peel, and, if it can be done safely, WP (something that will reel non SF readers into your lair)
December–Laura (sentimentality that will make us cry)
January–Sobek (winter doldrums would be a good time for War and Peace)
February–Michael, Brew, and Muslihoon (religious/philosophical, non-Lutheran)
March–Pupster and Harrison (travelling and drinking)
April–Compos (anatomy or music–sorry dude, none of the women wanted to work with you)

51. Sobek - October 18, 2007

I thought I was December. Oh well, that gives me more time to vacillate between picks. I can pick something other than Tolstoy, right? I’d like for people to actually read what I pick, you know?

52. daveintexas - October 19, 2007

I skipped the spoilers, and I was bitching a bit (in my mind, not out loud) about the inside baseball stuff about shootin…

and then this thing got really interesting.

53. Dave in Texas - October 22, 2007

if “Bob the Nailer” isn’t a great name for a character, I don’t know what is.

Oh, uh, sorry. Did I say that out loud?

54. Retired Geezer - October 28, 2007

Admin is doing a fine job of deleting the spam.

Wonder what it is about these book reviews that attracts them?

55. Michael - October 28, 2007

I’ve wondered the same thing, RG. My theory is that it’s the word “discussion.”

56. Mr Minority - October 31, 2007

Yeah, what Femijepehoich said.

57. daveintexas - October 31, 2007

Finished it on the flight yesterday. I have to say I really enjoyed this one. Good suspense, good character development.

SPOILER sorta,

I remembered that Bob had an ace in the hole, but I didn’t know what it was until his lawyer pal grabbed the rifle after asking “did you test fire it”?

Nice twist.

58. Mr Minority - October 31, 2007

Read Time to Hunt it is the continuation of Bob the Nailer story. And is as good as Point of Impact.

59. daveintexas - October 31, 2007

I enjoyed this one enough that I will Mr. M. Thanks.

60. Retired Geezer - October 31, 2007

Steven Hunter really knows how to write Action Sequences so that you feel like you’re there.

Sex scenes… not so much.

61. Mr Minority - October 31, 2007

Sex scenes… not so much.

I was also classify any scene in which a rifle/hand gun is described and used…as a sex scene.

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