Code of Conduct (Scot Harvath #14), by Brad Thor

Four stars

Thor returns with his fourteenth Scot Harvath novel, tackling an angle readers have yet to see in the rough and tumble former Navy Seal. After an anonymous video makes its way to America, what is depicted is nothing short of devastating. An entire African village destroyed by fire, purposely torched for reasons unknown. Harvath is dispatched as a favour, finding himself in the jungles of Congo as he tries to decipher what’s been going on. What begins as a suspected rebel slaughter of a village turns into something far more deadly, which could encapsulate the world, if not properly handled. Simultaneously, an Undersecretary at the United Nations, one Pierre Damien, is leading a plan to deal with the world’s burgeoning population issue, with complete immunity and full backing of his superiors. As Harvath links Damien to the Congo situation, he realises that there is a group on American soil working to ensure this pandemic reaches all corners of the planet, while infecting Washington’s political elite as well. Thor keeps the action high and uses his cast of regular characters to show a different side to Harvath, a softer and more compassionate one, while still holding firm to his promise to rid the world of evil.

As I read this novel, I could not help but see strong plot parallels with a series by another favourite author of mine, under the Covert-One heading. While some readers may complain that Thor has steered Scot Harvath away from his traditional international tough-guy persona, I felt this turn showed the versatility of the character, while also appealing to my interest in the aforementioned other series. The ideas were sound, the premise a tad far-fetched, but delivered in a realistic fashion, and the cast of regular characters made this book a highly interesting read. While not on my top five all-time in theBrad Thor collection, it did serve to offer the reader a break from the Bond-esque battles and exemplify that Harvath has a softer and more compassionate side to him.

Kudos, Mr. Thor for your wonderful addition to the series. Detractors are simply too ensconced in their rough and tumble Scot Harvath, but I applaud the versatile nature of the character and plot line.