‘Foreign Agent’ by Brad Thor

Brad Thor 2016With Foreign Agent, Brad Thor proves once again to be the master of one-night reads and the undisputed King of faction–a mesmerizing blend of fact and fiction.

Honestly, his books should just come with a label that reads “no bookmark required,” because they’re impossible to put down.

For a guy with more than eleven million books in print around the world, and who is an annual staple on The New York Times bestsellers list, Thor is still growing and improving as an author. How that’s even possible is beyond me, but it’s true.

Last year’s book, Code of Conduct, featured an incredible story that was certifiably un-put-downable.

So, how does Foreign Agent top that?

Simple, Harvath is back to doing the very thing that made him famous and one of the thriller genre’s most beloved leading men–Hunting down terrorists and putting a serious hurtin’ on them in the name of his country. 

The Story

For those wondering whether or not the events from Code of Conduct will impact the world that Harvath lives in moving forward, it absolutely does. Without spoiling last year’s book, its ending is addressed early and often, and there’s serious fallout from what happened. In fact, it impacts Harvath directly.

Returning alongside Harvath is his girlfriend, Lara. The two first met in Hidden Order, and their relationship was then referenced in Act of War, though Lara wasn’t actually part of the story. She returned once again in Code of Conduct, and their relationship progressed to the point of Scot admitting he loved her. Now, things are moving in the wrong direction for the couple.

The aftermath of Code of Conduct has left Lara with the an attractive job offer in her hometown of Boston. Harvath, of course, is based in Washington, D.C. and long-distance relationships aren’t meant to last forever. The two know a decision must ultimately be made, but at the moment, Harvath has more pressing issues to deal with–like the death of thirteen Americans.

When a CIA safe house in Iraq is raided and the entire team killed by ISIS forces, people in Washington want answers. Harvath carries a sense of guilt because it was his informant that led the SAD team to Iraq in the first place in pursuit of a high-ranking member of the Islamic State. Now they’re all dead, and Scot is pissed off.

Harvath goes to find his informant, only to learn that the man is missing. While investigating his disappearance, Harvath connects the man to some serious players inside Russia. Later, while following up a lead, he bumps into a blast from the past, and even teams up with someone readers will immediately recognize from Thor’s third novel, State of the Union

In fact, fans of State of the Union will be pleasantly surprised with how much Brad Thor incorporated from that novel into Foreign Agent. At one point Harvath sees a barb-wired-wrapped stein (longtime fans of the series will remember it well) and I literally got chills. Personally, I think State of the Union is one of the best political thrillers ever written, so revisiting it twelve years later was tons of fun. 

Harvath continues to climb the ladder of people as he pursues a Russian operative named Sacha Baseyev. Baseyev carries an unhealthy amount of hate stemming from a traumatic event that took place during his childhood, and will stop at nothing to complete his mission. 

The problem is that Harvath doesn’t know what Baseyev’s end game is. The longer it takes Scot to find out and stop him, the more innocent people die. ISIS even manages to assassinate a high-profile American, which is a big score for the terror group. 

With Russia and ISIS involved in the killing of Americans, and a planned attack still in the works, Scot Harvath finds himself in an impossible situation. What the bad guys never seem to learn, though, is that the last thing you should ever do to an apex predator (like Harvath) is back him into a corner.

There’s still a lot of blood to be spilled, but now it’s Harvath’s turn to wield the blade of justice–and he’ll stop at nothing to make things right. Fueled by revenge and guilt, Harvath sets out to avenge the fallen Americans and stop an attack against the United States at all costs.

Foreign Agent is a relentless, action-packed political thriller complete with everything readers have come to expect from one of the best authors in the game today. Brad Thor puts the “thrill” in the thriller genre. 

If you buy only one book this summer, make sure it’s  Thor’s Foreign Agent.

Why I loved it

Harvath keeps evolving as a character, and it’s a real treat to read. He’s not perfect, and that shows. He wasn’t able to stop the events in Code of Conduct, nor was he able to figure out that he was being played early on in Foreign Agent. Throw in his frustration from the issues with Lara, and this is quite possibly the angriest we’ve ever seen him. 

All that anger comes to a head as Harvath searches for Sacha Baseyev and tries desperately to prevent the Russian’s sinister plan, which includes an attack that reaches all the way to the front lawn of the White House. Reading it reminded me a lot of the eighth season of 24. Fans of the hit television show (starring Kiefer Sutherland) will remember a different Jack Bauer from the previous seven seasons. 

Bauer, like Harvath, had always tiptoed outside the line when necessary, but never fully crossed it. Then, suddenly, as if their BS meter was finally full, they both just said “screw it” and did what needed to be done. 

Honestly, I’ve never cheered so hard for Harvath to complete a mission before. Thor sucks you in early and doesn’t let go for a single page, as he masterfully mixes in both action and suspense. 

I read this entire book in one sitting, staying up all night to finish it. I’ll do that sometimes while writing reviews, but this was the very first time I didn’t drink any coffee to get me through the night. While it’s true I didn’t want to pause long enough to go brew a pot, caffeine is not required when following Scot Harvath. In fact, when coffee needs a pick-me-up, it cracks open a Brad Thor novel!

Why you should read it

Three of Thor’s last four novels (Black List, Hidden Order, Code of Conduct) have featured threats other than Islamic extremists. Those books were all fantastic, but Thor is without a doubt at his best while covering this topic. After all, this is the author who had one of his books (The Last Patriot) banned in Saudi Arabia after he wrote a fictional plot about the discovery of a lost Islamic text. 

The story is also timely, as ISIS continues to dominate the headlines. Harvath is capable of doing the things we all wish our current president would unleash against the most barbaric terror group ever assembled, and it’s satisfying to see them getting what they deserve. (I just wish it weren’t fiction!)

I’ve now read advance copies of all the June thrillers and, in my opinion, Foreign Agent is without a doubt the best thing hitting bookstores this summer. Buy it and move it straight to the top of your to-read list, it’s that good. 

Book Details

Note: Foreign Agent is the fifteenth novel in the Scot Harvath series. While there is a chronological order to the series, each story has been written to stand on its own, allowing readers to jump in at any point. Even if you’ve never read any of Brad Thor’s previous books, you won’t miss a beat if you choose to make this your first Scot Harvath experience! 

Author: Brad Thor

Pages: 435 (Hardcover)

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Release Date: June 14, 2016 (Order now!)

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