THE MASTER SNIPER by Stephen Hunter
Kirkus Star


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The master sniper is a Nazi (SS Death Head Division) named Repp, and his mysterious end-of-WW-II assignment is the hook in this mesmerizing suspense debut stuffed with likable good guys and monstrous villains. We first catch sight of the sniper at Anlage Elf, where Jewish Shmuel and two dozen other Dachau prisoners have been transferred; they're fattened up and given special treatment before being sent out at midnight into a snowy hillside to become targets in a one-man shooting gallery for sniper Repp, who's testing the new Vampyr rifle (its scope can see in the dark!). Only Shmuel survives--and he escapes to London, where he makes contact with a team already trying to figure out what's being hatched by Repp and his rifle: U.S. Capt. Leets, David-Nivenish Major Tony Outhwaite, and teenage Midwesterner T-5 Roger Evans. Helped by the info from Sbmuel, the good guys head for Germany--they're with the first troops into Dachau--but Repp and his fantastic weapon have vamoosed to Switzerland. And always there's the question: who is Repp planning to kill? Only after the team bargains with Eichmann (who wants his freedom) do they learn that the SS has salted away $100 million in Jewish money (the inheritance of a Jewish boy being hidden in an Alpine nunnery) for postwar escape funds--but the legal heir must be killed. So the finale is a duel in the Alps between Repp and the team. . . . No great originality in the basic plot here; but Hunter has an enormously effective sense of technical magic built into the ""character"" of the Vampyr rifle--and in Repp he has the very soul of murder, a man who once killed 345 Russians singlehandedly and now expects to wipe out all 25 kids in the nunnery. With unusually effective, convincing dialogue throughout, then, a first thriller reminiscent of--and nearly on a level with-Forsyth's Day of the Jackal.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
Publisher: Morrow