Ray Cruz Books

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Ray Cruz is the chief protagonist in the Ray Cruz series of novels written by American writer Stephen Hunter. The first book of the Ray Cruz series, Dead Zero was published in December 2010. The series of books are in the thriller genre.

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Order of Ray Cruz Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Dead Zero (By: Stephen Hunter) 2010 Description / Buy
2 Soft Target ( By: Stephen Hunter) 2011 Description / Buy
Print: Print PDF

The Ray Cruz series is written by Stephen Hunter. After growing up in Evanston, Illinois, Hunter went to Northwestern University where he graduated with a degree in journalism. After graduation, he was drafted for two years in the United States Army where he served as a ceremonial soldier in the Old Guard. Once he completed his run in the Army, he was able to begin using his journalism degree as he went to work for the Baltimore Sun in 1971.

He eventually became the film critic in 1982 for the Baltimore Sun before moving to the Washington Post as their film critic. He wrote his first novel back in 1980 and continued to publish novels throughout his journalism career. He had great success as a film critic, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2003.

Unsurprisingly based on the characters in his books, Hunter is a well-known gun enthusiast. His books are often filled with perfect gun details which earn praise from the gun community.

His major breakout was the 1993 book “Point of Impact” which was the first book in the Bob Lee Swagger series. With that book becoming the movie Shooter as well as the USA television show of the same name.

The Bob Lee Swagger series has been such a hit that it has spawned two spinoff series. The first being the Earl Swagger series which follows Bob Lee’s father Earl in a variety of adventures set in the past. The second, of course, is the Ray Cruz series.

Spinoffs of the Bob Lee Swagger series, the books feature Ray Cruz, the son of Swagger who like his father is an ex-military man. The book begins with Cruz working on a highly sensitive mission of trying to assassinate a notorious warlord in the tribal territories along the Afghan Pakistan border. Badly wounded after enemies using the latest high tech weapons attack his hideout, Cruz remains determined to complete his mission and kills his target.

As days turn into months without him making any headway, the CIA recruits the warlord as an asset in the region. The agency soon receives a message from Cruz long thought dead, asserting that he will soon be completing the mission. The agency immediately sends out Bob Lee Swagger to stop him from taking out the warlord.

Has Cruz turned rogue? And will Swagger be able to stop Cruz, the only sniper who can outshoot him. What follows is a remarkable story that portrays the skills of Stephen Hunter in crafting an action packed story that will have the reader on a knife age from start to finish, while also tackling the ethical and moral principal in espionage. This is one of the best works ever penned by Hunter, which shows how a critic that won the Pulitzer can become a very good novelist.


With Ray Cruz a son of the legendary Bob Lee Swagger, fans of the Ray Cruz series may find the two Swagger books that were made into movies quite interesting. Point of Impact the first of the Bob Lee Swagger books was adapted into the movie Shooter. The movie featuring Michael Wahlberg as Swagger would give some good background information for a reader of the Ray Cruz series. A reader needing more information on the characters could also follow Shooter series that aired on the USA Network, and is an adaptation of the original movie. For any reader with an interest in the earlier books but lacking the time to read them, the adaptation of the 47th Samurai, is one great book made into a movie that could get one up to speed. The movie titled The Sword will provide some different perspectives to the Ray Cruz character and his father Bob Swagger.


The first book of the Ray Cruz series, Dead Zero is regarded as the best novel by many fans of the Cruz books. Trying something new after the wild success of the Earl Swagger spinoff, Hunter creates an incredible narrative of Bob Lee Swagger’s son, Ray Cruz. Featuring an older, contemplative Swagger pitted against the impulsive but obsessively ethical Ray Cruz, Hunter writes a compelling narrative. While on a mission on the Pakistan Afghanistan border, Cruz disappears only to reappear with a cryptic message asserting that he would be completing his mession shortly. The only problem is that the warlord has now become a darling of his bosses. Has Cruz gone rogue and will Bob Swagger the man sent to stop him prevail.

The second book in the series, Soft Target is also one that is popular with fans of the series. Ray Cruz finds himself the only person with a plan when twelve terrorists take over America – The Mall, with nearly ten thousand people inside it. What follows is an intense narrative that details media coverage, strategic police response, and Cruz’s efforts to evade the gunmen, find a gun and defuse the hostage situation.


Many Ray Cruz fans also enjoyed the “Alexander Hawke” series of novels by Ted Bell. Lord Alexander Hawke is a James Bond type of character, being British, shrewd, well informed, and full of aplomb, combined with an independent streak. Ray Cruz fans also like the “Bob Lee Swagger” series of novels by Stephen Hunter. The prequel to the Ray Cruz series, the books feature Swagger, a retired intelligence agent and Cruz’s father as the main protagonist. Swagger followed in the footsteps of his father to become an accomplished sniper and special ops officer.

What Is The Next Book in The Ray Cruz Series?

There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Ray Cruz Series. The newest book is Soft Target and was released on December, 6th 2011.


1 thought on “Ray Cruz”

  1. While I was looking forward to another series from Stephen Hunter, I was ultimately disappointed by the Ray Cruz books. Ray Cruz falls flat as the hero and appears weak when compared to Bob Lee Swagger. I also wasn’t a fan of the terrorists targeting the Mall of America (or a close comparative used for publishing purposes). Terrorists would never target such an unimportant place in mid-America. I’m a fan of the Swagger books but these didn’t do it for me.

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