Spymaster (Scot Harvath #17), by Brad Thor

Eight stars

Brad Thor returns with another wonderful novel in his Scot Harvath series, keeping things not only exciting but politically on point. In a world where alliances are always shifting, the reemergence of Russian political dominance is one that cannot be ignored. After a number of high-ranking officials from a number of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries are gunned down, word is that it is part of a larger plan to disrupt the collective. There is proof that the Russians have been amassing troops on the borders of their Baltic neighbours, leaving those within NATO feeling additionally nervous as they wonder if this could be foreboding to an aggressive move. Scot Harvath is a member of the team contracted to follow-up and investigate the intelligence, which purports that Russia will strike close to the Organization’s underbelly, in neutral Sweden. The team makes its way to as island off the country’s coast, looking for a Russian cell that could commence attacks on their former satellite states, particularly those who are new NATO members. Under the Organization’s founding documents, Article 5 insists that an attack on one member is an attack on all, which could lead to a new war on European soil. Meanwhile, the Americans are trying to deal with a major gaffe in Poland that could propel the world to turn against them. Someone has broken into a convoy of vehicle and stolen military parts capable of resurrecting previously banned missiles. With the NATO situation gaining momentum, this revelation could push the Russians to the brink. As Harvath and his team seek to dismantle the Russian cell in Sweden, there is the larger concern of what might come on another front. Diplomatic means are off the table and this must be stopped before the world media gets wind of these potentially catastrophic maneuvers. Harvath has much to accomplish and little time to waste. Thor keeps readers intrigued as the story hits home in what could be a ‘torn from the headlines’ plot. Perfect for series fans and those who love politically relevant thrillers.

At a time when espionage and political thrillers are still fixated on all this ISIS, it is nice to see some authors keeping an open mind. Gone are the days when readers tend to want more Islam versus Infidel themed novels, particularly with all the action taking place with Russia at present. Thor spent a number of his novels dealing with this topic, but has been able to look at current news headlines to craft new and exciting storylines that will continue to impress readers. Scot Harvath has undergone much transformation over the series and continues to keep himself a relevant part of the discussion. Thor has not offered additional backstory, but keeps developing his protagonist. With an ever-updated ‘team’ working alongside him, Harvath’s personal attributes are highlighted in new and interesting ways. Others complement him well, while also carving out their own character development, thereby permitting series fans to see constant growth of those names who keep reappearing on the page and adding hope that some of these new names will find a means of popping up once again. The story was not only interesting, but offered the reader a chance to wonder ‘what if’ as it relates to the sub-plots being developed. While there is certainly less of a Russia-US animosity at present, that is sure to change when America finds itself once again and out of the orange-haze quagmire that has foreign policy nursing from the Russian teat. Until then, Thor posits many plausible and thought-provoking storylines that could develop in Western Europe. Using NATO was a brilliant spin on what is currently taking place and, through some of his research and personal sentiments, Thor makes some fairly grounded arguments to keep the politically savvy reader wondering, as well as gasping at the novel’s ending. Might this be some foreboding remains to be seen.

Kudos, Mr. Thor, for another wonderful novel. Some may not like the tempered action, but I found it completely captivating and hope you’ll consider continuing this theme.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons