Soft Target
Soft Target By Hunter, Stephen Book - 2011 | 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed

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.

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