Featured Review: ‘Use of Force’ By Brad Thor

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Following last year’s Foreign Agent, Brad Thor brings back Scot Harvath, the legendary counterterrorism operative, for his most action-packed novel to date.  

When a raging storm rocks the Mediterranean Sea, a small vessel is forced to make a distress call to the Italian Coast Guard, blowing the cover on a smuggling operation in the process. 

Meanwhile, Scot Harvath, who is now splitting his time between Boston and Washinton, D.C., heads up an operation just outside of Reno during the seven-day Burning Man event in Black Rock Desert, Nevada. Contracted through the CIA, though he is technically still employed by the Carlton Group–a private security firm that handles some of the Central Intelligence Agency’s darkest black ops–Harvath is on site to snatch a man named Hamza Rahim. 

It’s believed that Rahim is scouting the area for a potential terrorist attack. Therefore, Harvath, along with a highly-trained extraction team, is sent to bring him in so that the CIA can interrogate Rahim with the hope of penetrating his terrorist cell. But almost as soon as the operation kicks off, things turn south. Ultimately, people in government view the outcome of the mission in two completely different ways. 

In the aftermath of the Burning Man event, Harvath learns that among the washed-up dead bodies from the Mediterranean Sea-based distress call was Mustapha Marzouk, a known bomb maker with terrorist ties who’d been off the CIA’s radar for several years. 

Marzouk’s body turning up sends shivers down the spines of both Bob McGee and Lydia Ryan, the Director and Deputy Director of the CIA, who have both felt like a large scale attack from ISIS is inevitable. 

Officially, McGee and Ryan–along with the rest of the CIA–are handcuffed by the constraints of the federal government, as a growing number of politicians have vocalized their disdain for America’s foreign intelligence service. With the country split on how to handle ISIS, some even going so far as to suggest fighting back against the savage terror group only makes them stronger, McGee’s job becomes infinitely harder. 

When an attack is thwarted, nobody knows about it. But when an attack is successful, the CIA is put under the microscope and their methods are questioned. 

Now, with a potential major attack looming, both President Porter and Director McGee realize they need someone to slice through the bureaucratic red tape and get results, period. Their answer is to bring Scot Harvath in on a black contract, allowing the United States government plausible deniability, and to set him free to stop the terrorists from completing their objective at all costs. 

As the bad guys will soon learn, Harvath, a former Navy SEAL, is the last person you want coming after you if you’re planning an attack on American soil. What follows is three-hundred high-speed, explosive pages of do-not-mess-with-Scot Harvath, who will stop at nothing to see his mission through. 

One of the things that makes Thor, who was part of Homeland Security’s Analytical Red Cell Unit, so unique is that he’s constantly coming up with chilling new attack scenarios, adding nerve-wracking (and terrifying) suspense to his stories. Additionally, Thor incorporates newly-developed weapons and technology, including the use of drones, into his stories–adding another dynamic element to his already authentic-feeling battlefield sequences.

With action so real you can almost feel the recoil each time Harvath fires his rifle, one scene in particular, involving a ZU-2 antiaircraft gun, is bound to have readers’ fitness trackers fooled into thinking they’re doing cardio instead of just racing through the pages. 

While newcomers can jump in and enjoy this book without having read any of the earlier novels, longtime fans will especially appreciate some of the side stories (especially one involving a disgruntled former spy seeking revenge against Reed Carlton) and emotional moments that Thor packs in behind the main storyline. 

Along with delivering some of the best action scenes in print today, Thor continues to grow as a writer. Without giving anything away, Code of Conduct (2015) marked a change in Scot Harvath and Thor has developed his series protagonist brilliantly over his last three novels. Where most authors struggle to keep things fresh after turning in fifteen bestsellers, Thor keeps finding creative ways to take his series and characters to new heights. In fact, number sixteen might just be his best work yet–which is truly impressive when you consider his body of work. 

Thor, who has long been known for beating headlines, masterfully combines current events with nonstop action, creating a captivating plot that feels a tad too real for comfort. Anyone paying attention to current headlines should agree, Scot Harvath is the hero America needs in today’s tumultuous political climate. 

With his latest pulse-pounding adventure, Brad Thor puts the rest of the genre on notice–Use of Force is the thriller to beat in 2017. 

Book Details

Author: Brad Thor
Series: Scot Harvath #16
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 147678938X
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017 (Order Now!)

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