Gunnery Sgt. Jack Couglin, USMC (ret) is the only author on this list who could put more notches on his gun than his keyboard. As the top Marine sniper in Iraq, killing terrorists for him was not a theoretical exercise. And while his fiction doesn't compete with Shooter — his autobiography, the new classic in sniper literature — Couglin's fictional series with Shooter co-author Donald Davis is cool, efficient and deadly.
In Dead Shot (St. Martin's, $24.95), Marine sniper Kyle Swanson and his covert team are assigned to find a bioweapons lab called "The Palace of Death," Saddam Hussein's final and most deadly secret in Iraq.
Tasked with stopping them is Juba, the jihadist's best sniper. The British army-trained son of a naturalized Muslim doctor and a Scottish human rights attorney, Juba, is working for a terrorist who wants to replace terror mastermind Osama bin Laden as the top dog in the jihad. He figures a biological attack against the United States is his ticket.
The duel between Swanson and Juba is as tense as anything in a Stephen Hunter novel. While it's hard to argue that Coughlin and Davis are in Hunter's literary league just yet, it's been a while since the master of sniper fiction has written a book as good as Dead Shot.
Of course, if reading about real life threats sounds more anxiety-inducing than entertaining, you could always pick up the Janet Napolitano Department of Homeland Security report on the right-wing extremist threat. At least that won't keep you up nights turning pages.