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The Second Shooter

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A perception-twisting scifi thriller by a critically acclaimed author. Sometimes, the truth is weirder than the conspiracy theories. “There was video of the second shooter. There was video.” In the first reports of every mass shooting, there’s always mention of a second shooter—two sets of gunshots, a figure seen fleeing the scene—and they always seem to evaporate as events a A perception-twisting scifi thriller by a critically acclaimed author. Sometimes, the truth is weirder than the conspiracy theories. “There was video of the second shooter. There was video.” In the first reports of every mass shooting, there’s always mention of a second shooter—two sets of gunshots, a figure seen fleeing the scene—and they always seem to evaporate as events are pieced together. Commissioned by a fringe publisher to investigate the phenomenon, journalist Mike Karras finds himself tailed by drones, attacked by a talk radio host, badgered by his all-knowing (and maybe all-powerful) editor, and teaming up with an immigrant family of conspiracy buffs. Together, they uncover something larger and stranger than anyone could imagine—a technomystical plot to ‘murder America.’ Time for Karras to meet his deadline.


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A perception-twisting scifi thriller by a critically acclaimed author. Sometimes, the truth is weirder than the conspiracy theories. “There was video of the second shooter. There was video.” In the first reports of every mass shooting, there’s always mention of a second shooter—two sets of gunshots, a figure seen fleeing the scene—and they always seem to evaporate as events a A perception-twisting scifi thriller by a critically acclaimed author. Sometimes, the truth is weirder than the conspiracy theories. “There was video of the second shooter. There was video.” In the first reports of every mass shooting, there’s always mention of a second shooter—two sets of gunshots, a figure seen fleeing the scene—and they always seem to evaporate as events are pieced together. Commissioned by a fringe publisher to investigate the phenomenon, journalist Mike Karras finds himself tailed by drones, attacked by a talk radio host, badgered by his all-knowing (and maybe all-powerful) editor, and teaming up with an immigrant family of conspiracy buffs. Together, they uncover something larger and stranger than anyone could imagine—a technomystical plot to ‘murder America.’ Time for Karras to meet his deadline.

30 review for The Second Shooter

  1. 4 out of 5

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    There's this feeling I get with Nick's work that he is probably a little too clever, unique and dark for the world. That he is meant to be a cult writer. Being a cult writer is not a bad thing, but it's a bit more difficult these days and it obviously involves delayed gratification. It's the kind of situation, where, if you are lucky, in your golden years a small but rabid group of fans will help keep your legacy alive. Which is nice! But I don't doubt being highly adored while you are young ala There's this feeling I get with Nick's work that he is probably a little too clever, unique and dark for the world. That he is meant to be a cult writer. Being a cult writer is not a bad thing, but it's a bit more difficult these days and it obviously involves delayed gratification. It's the kind of situation, where, if you are lucky, in your golden years a small but rabid group of fans will help keep your legacy alive. Which is nice! But I don't doubt being highly adored while you are young ala Sally Rooney is pretty much one of the best things ever. So, The Second Shooter definitely feels like the sort of work that is a cult writer's book about, uh, cults. The cult of violence, if you want to get specific, but also the cults the media creates. It's a story about disinformation and a harried loser of a writer trying to pen a book about conspiracy theories. If there's something Nick can do, it's a sense of dirty realism where his writer feels accurate and true. Which also means he's not very likeable because, frankly, the glamorous writers of movies have nothing to do with most of the authors churning words for the content mills. Incidentally, Robert Silverberg made his money off writing porn in the 70s, something he didn't enjoy much. It can be a cruel business, but it's also addictive. Anyway, Mamatas's world of weirdos and conspiracy theories is probably not the right book for people seeking 'likeable' protags or easy to digest plots. It is the kind of book that will be appealing to folks who delight in paranoid nightmares, a certain level of noir pulpiness, and enjoy a 'twist' (this is published by Rebellion, which is a SFF imprint, so it's no straight gumshoe mystery). I'd say the ideal reader is someone who really liked both Twin Peaks and The X-Files, and getting stoned while watching both of them. God knows there's a Venn diagram somewhere for that and I hope the book finds its people as cult novels eventually do.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    I’m the first person rating and reviewing this book, surprisingly so, for a recognizable author and a proper publisher. And I do really wish I was more complimentary to it, but since I can’t, the next goal is objectivity, Let’s see how I do with that. This is a book I was supposed to like. I was sure I would. It had all the right elements. It was exciting, mysterious adventure through a conspiracy laden plot, a paranoia infused narrative doing a thoroughly original and disturbing take on the mos I’m the first person rating and reviewing this book, surprisingly so, for a recognizable author and a proper publisher. And I do really wish I was more complimentary to it, but since I can’t, the next goal is objectivity, Let’s see how I do with that. This is a book I was supposed to like. I was sure I would. It had all the right elements. It was exciting, mysterious adventure through a conspiracy laden plot, a paranoia infused narrative doing a thoroughly original and disturbing take on the most American of scenarios…the gun violence and public shootings. It’s a sort of thing the news has all but made us inured to, through repetition. There’s simply too much of it too often, and frequency tends to normalize the tragedy. But here the author has cleverly twisted it into something even more sinister…what if there was a mysterious second shooter? Some people swear by it. And so the book’s protagonist, an investigative journalist working for a small press that specializes in conspiracy theories and such, sets off to find out the truth and ends up on an increasingly dangerous journey to something grander and more evil that he might have ever imagined. And he’s an imaginative guy. This novel has a kitchen sink of goodies, including interesting characters from an African immigrant family to a radio jockey who screams for attention along the same lines as Alex Jones and a variety of conspiracies and conspiracy buffs. It has action, suspense, mystery. It even ambitiously ramps up into the metaphysical towards the end. It’s pretty well written and very clever in its references and yet… And yet it didn’t quite work for me. Some basic reader/book incompatibility. It’s always difficult to narrow it down to the whys with the objectively quality book. I can try, I suppose. There was something about the general tone of it that didn’t quite engage me. At first it reminded me of the testosterone slathered slabs of Clancy or Flynn or something, but that wasn’t quite it, either. It just…it was busy in an overwhelming way. It convoluted itself in unnatural ways, but in the end its greatest drag was that it went too far. I wouldn’t say it got too clever for itself, mainly because I loathe the idea of something being too clever and the way it negates cleverness, but toward the end the direction the novel took was too over the top. It was like a result of pouring gallons of gasoline on a paranoid conspiracy theory fire and watching it go and do an obliterating power whoosh. Too much too fast too far. Or maybe this is more like it..imagine talking to a conspiracy fanatic. At first they are likely to follow some thread of logic, however convoluted, but as you continue listening, they’ll go farther and farther and sound crazier and crazier, until whatever logic they followed is abandoned for all but the devotees. So those are my notes and thoughts on the book. The bottom line is it’s interesting, it spirals down some fascinating avenues, it’s original. It has a lot to recommend itself. It didn’t quite work for me, but it wasn’t a waste of time by any means. I’d be interested to read other reviews of this book as they materialize. Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

    In Second Shooter, Nick Mamatas drags us headfirst into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories with no apologies and no explanations--you are either with us or you are out. In this fast-paced science-fiction thriller, which Mamatas says he felt pressured to complete so that it might get read before the world ends, we explore the idea of the second shooter: the allegation of multiple gunmen at the John F Kennedy assassination expanded to second shooters witnessed in all manner of terrifying publi In Second Shooter, Nick Mamatas drags us headfirst into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories with no apologies and no explanations--you are either with us or you are out. In this fast-paced science-fiction thriller, which Mamatas says he felt pressured to complete so that it might get read before the world ends, we explore the idea of the second shooter: the allegation of multiple gunmen at the John F Kennedy assassination expanded to second shooters witnessed in all manner of terrifying public attacks. Mike Karras is a writer, only slightly more successful than average and a lot less successful than any writer you have ever heard of. He scratches out a living writing about conspiracy theories, taking advantage of the wildfire spread of information in the Internet age while straddling the line between wry journalistic cynicism and justifiable paranoia. Karras does his best to avoid the attention-seeking Bennet, whose radio show is dependent on continuing drama and hot takes, while struggling to impress the moralistic Rahel Alazar, who fiercely clings to her conviction that she knows what she saw, despite the fact that no one believes her, not even the conspiracy-loving journalist who has traveled across the country to interview her. Mamatas has a knack for ambushing the reader with beautiful prose in the grittiest of circumstances. He doesn't shy away from the unhappiness and isolation that dog those who are convinced that they can trust no one; there's a touch of Bukowski in the way he almost apologetically warns you upfront that everyone is a loser. This makes it doubly pleasing when Karras manages to scrape a tiny piece of redemption from the quagmire. We are encouraged to shake our heads in dismay at the distorted mental gyrations of the True Believers as they reconcile their mundane day-to-day lives with their conspiracies. This confidence leads us to barely notice that each layer of truth is peeled back like onion skins until we no longer know what to believe. In the end, what is a thriller but a collection of conspiracies populated by dark shadowy powers and constant surveillance as the protagonist learns that there is no one he can trust? The difference with Second Shooter is that we are invited to laugh at the people who read these novels before realizing we are one of them. The references to memes and conspiracy theories could be off-putting in the hands of a less talented author-- I had to reach for Wikipedia a few times --but the key details are flagged and always spelled out where they are relevant to the plot. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. In a world where the spread of disinformation and polarizing pseudoscience increases with every new algorithmically-driven social media channel, it is something of a novelty to consider that the paranoids are both crazy and maybe right, even if for all the wrong reasons. There's a feeling of inevitability about the whole thing, even the supernatural elements: like any good conspiracy nut, you suspected it all along.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Merriam

    Bonkers in the best way This novel starts off weird, gets weirder, and then just as you settle in to the weirdness, takes a turn into totally bonkers. I found it both thoroughly enjoyable and interestingly thought-provoking.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jon Frankel

    I absolutely loved this book. A thriller about a journalist investigating the Second Shooter phenomenon: often witnesses to assassinations and mass shootings see a second shooter who later can't be identified. Evidence is lost and soon the witness is written off as a nut job. It is a road trip through paranoid, conspiracy-driven america, the flames of hate bellowed into conflagrations by cynical podcasters and the media. Dissolving lines of reality, Mamatas never loses the thriller plot. Immense I absolutely loved this book. A thriller about a journalist investigating the Second Shooter phenomenon: often witnesses to assassinations and mass shootings see a second shooter who later can't be identified. Evidence is lost and soon the witness is written off as a nut job. It is a road trip through paranoid, conspiracy-driven america, the flames of hate bellowed into conflagrations by cynical podcasters and the media. Dissolving lines of reality, Mamatas never loses the thriller plot. Immense visceral pleasure in a good suspense novel is isometric with a profound level of implication, meanings expanding outward from the word, the sentence, the paragraph, meanings merging and cancelling each other out. Meanwhile it's kiss kiss, bang bang all the way. Bad guys with guns, cellphones and self-driving trucks. Invisibility cloaks and junkfood, with a big dose of metaphysics crammed into the mouths of every day yos. What more could a reader want?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Seriesbooklover

    Sometimes you come across a book that is so different and unique, it can be hard to describe the story or genre and The Second Shooter is one of those books. Mike Karras, is a freelance writer who has been commissioned by an obscure, left-wing publisher intriguing named Little Round Bomb Books. His investigation is focused on the conspiracy theory of the mysterious second shooter, that witnesses claim to have seen at mass shootings and assassinations. He is sceptical until he finds himself in the Sometimes you come across a book that is so different and unique, it can be hard to describe the story or genre and The Second Shooter is one of those books. Mike Karras, is a freelance writer who has been commissioned by an obscure, left-wing publisher intriguing named Little Round Bomb Books. His investigation is focused on the conspiracy theory of the mysterious second shooter, that witnesses claim to have seen at mass shootings and assassinations. He is sceptical until he finds himself in the middle of a mass shooting, becomes the target of a right-wing radio host, and is followed by drones. He tries to uncover the truth with the help and sometimes hindrance of his editor, some pesky teenagers and a family of conspiracy buffs, the Alazars. While the underlying premise of the second shooter isn’t unique the explanation and the overall story was different to anything I have read before. The plot races along with no drag with poor Mike lurching from one crisis to another, ending worse off with each problem he solves. I really did feel sorry for Mike as this was one hero who was out of his depth through most of the book and I liked how realistic this was The secondary characters even those with very little to do in the book are so well written. My favourites have to be Sharon, Mike’s editor and Tony Alazar but all of them from Bracken, the right-wing lorry driver to Katrina, the teenage activist are vividly written and energise the scenes they are in. Chris Bennett, the radio host is a creepy villain making his presence felt throughout the book and unfortunately is all too real in today's world. In fact, the overall premise and chilling finish is all too believable and could potentially happen. The science-fiction element of the book doesn’t really kick in until halfway through the book but when it does it is truly mind-bending and to say any more would push me into spoiler territory. I would have liked to read the science-fiction part of the story a little earlier. I found it hard to warm up to Mike as the main character. Perfect for fans of Blake Crouch or John Mars Summary 4 stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    M. A. Blanchard

    The Second Shooter is a fast-paced and darkly funny novel that carries readers along like a storm surge, twisting and turning around ever-changing plot points and perspectives. It's a great send-up of America's contemporary culture of conspiracy theorists and the media figures who engage with and encourage them for the sake of the show, as well as a biting critique of everyone who benefits from public tragedies. I found it both entertaining and eerily believable. The main drawback of this novel, The Second Shooter is a fast-paced and darkly funny novel that carries readers along like a storm surge, twisting and turning around ever-changing plot points and perspectives. It's a great send-up of America's contemporary culture of conspiracy theorists and the media figures who engage with and encourage them for the sake of the show, as well as a biting critique of everyone who benefits from public tragedies. I found it both entertaining and eerily believable. The main drawback of this novel, for me, was that I had some difficulty finding the main character engaging. Everything that happened to and around him, and everyone he encountered, was much, much more engaging, which saved the book and ultimately resulted in a satisfying reading experience. I think it might have been a five-star read had there been just a bit more to Mike Karras, though perhaps his essential lack of, well, pretty much everything was important to the plot. At any rate, though his characterization was a flaw for me, I still enjoyed the book quite a bit. I'd recommend The Second Shooter to anyone looking for a slightly paranormal thriller that's short enough for a fast reader to blaze through in an afternoon. Fans of the X-Files, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson alike should find plenty of thematic satisfaction here, but Mamatas's take on familiar themes of omnipresent surveillance and vast conspiracy is individual enough to offer most readers something new to think about. I received a free e-ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I thoroughly enjoyed THE SECOND SHOOTER and I recommend it to anyone who wants a fast-paced, twisty novel about conspiracies and other things hidden in plain sight. The novel follows journalist Mike Karras on his quest to write a book about fringe theories and the “second shooter” phenomenon—the idea that at any mass shooting, there are always reports of a second gunman that can’t be substantiated. After finding himself at the scene of a mass shooting, Karras winds up following threads down a la I thoroughly enjoyed THE SECOND SHOOTER and I recommend it to anyone who wants a fast-paced, twisty novel about conspiracies and other things hidden in plain sight. The novel follows journalist Mike Karras on his quest to write a book about fringe theories and the “second shooter” phenomenon—the idea that at any mass shooting, there are always reports of a second gunman that can’t be substantiated. After finding himself at the scene of a mass shooting, Karras winds up following threads down a labyrinth of conspiracies, aided by a quirky cast of other outcasts and conspiracy theorists. This book reminded me of The X-Files, in the best way. It had the same feeling of slowly uncovering a massive plot and of connecting real-world fringe ideas with increasingly zany sci-fi-esque elements. Mamatas is an engaging writer and gives Karras a perfectly wry, self-deprecating voice which is a pleasure to read. I look forward to what he comes up with next. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Rosen

    What begins as an offbeat conspiracy thriller about a freelance journalist investigating the phenomenon of mysterious second shooters during mass killings and assassinations is one mindfuck after another, until it takes an absolutely bonkers twist near the end into a hallucinogenic fever dream. Mamatas wields genre as a weapon to explore Situationism, metaphysics, and identity. This novel is a wild ride that manages to be literary in its ideas and highly readable in its structure.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    This is the sort of book that you know you could like and you end up loving it. Gripping, fast paced, full of surprises and with an intersting cast of characters and a fascinating world building. Conspiracies, new technologies, action and everything which is necessary to make a book stand out and become one of those book you mark as "VERY VERY GOOD". Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine This is the sort of book that you know you could like and you end up loving it. Gripping, fast paced, full of surprises and with an intersting cast of characters and a fascinating world building. Conspiracies, new technologies, action and everything which is necessary to make a book stand out and become one of those book you mark as "VERY VERY GOOD". Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen Williams

    Someone always sees a second shooter, though usually they're wrong. Mike Karras, a cross between a fifties private eye and a true crime writer, sets out to find the truth about the so-called second shooters at mass shooting events. This book is a wild ride, as we follow Karras into weirder and weirder fun situations. I highly recommend it. Someone always sees a second shooter, though usually they're wrong. Mike Karras, a cross between a fifties private eye and a true crime writer, sets out to find the truth about the so-called second shooters at mass shooting events. This book is a wild ride, as we follow Karras into weirder and weirder fun situations. I highly recommend it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cara Hoffman

    BRILLIANT.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    Enjoyed this book. You always hear about a second shooter, but it almost always fades out. A take on what that means. #TheSecondShooter #NetGalley

  14. 5 out of 5

    Angelica Pascoe

    Although it was a bit too fast paced and confusing for my liking, it was definitely an interesting read. It's a twisty, mysterious and believable story. Although it was a bit too fast paced and confusing for my liking, it was definitely an interesting read. It's a twisty, mysterious and believable story.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Tim Powers, if he did a lot more drugs. 4/5.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dave C

    Incoherent A very promising start got boring then had a startling interesting twist and then devolved into incoherence. No thank you!

  17. 5 out of 5

    procrastinatingpages

    There were parts of this book that I really did enjoy, and the actual concept of this book was really intriguing. I've never really heard anything about the second shooter phenomenon, but it’s left me very interested and I plan to look into this more. Anyway, while there were parts that I was intrigued by, the majority of this book left me very confused. I did appreciate the character interactions, and some of the conversations that were brought up left me a lot to think about. I didn’t love it, a There were parts of this book that I really did enjoy, and the actual concept of this book was really intriguing. I've never really heard anything about the second shooter phenomenon, but it’s left me very interested and I plan to look into this more. Anyway, while there were parts that I was intrigued by, the majority of this book left me very confused. I did appreciate the character interactions, and some of the conversations that were brought up left me a lot to think about. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it. I did find that I really struggled to understand the reasons behind the main character's actions, and I didn’t connect with him or his aspirations. (Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for this ARC in exchange for an honest review).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Infinitely Curious

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debra

  20. 5 out of 5

    Glory

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Carlson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Kiley

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thieving Magpie

  24. 5 out of 5

    matthew

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bill Barnett

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.C. Watson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robi Eagle Mex

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anasol Muñeton

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