Rising Tiger (Scot Harvath #21), by Brad Thor

Eight stars

When it comes to novels in the thriller genre, one need look no further than Brad Thor. Always keen to pluck out some struggle on the international scene, Thor proves insightful and highly entertaining as he presents his novels in a no holds barred manner. Pushing away from the over-flogged Russia and ISIS angles, Thor turns to China and India as new domains, where democracy and international safety hang in the balance. With operative Scot Harvath on the scene, the reader can be assured of something intense and full of action. Another Thor winner, sure to keep series fans quite content.

After a US operative is killed in India, the Americans are not ready to turn the other cheek, but must retaliate with some subtlety. Sending Scot Harvath into the region seems the most propitious way to handle things, though it will require much coordination to ensure things go smoothly. Harvath has not spent much time in India, but is ready for a new and difficult challenge.

After arriving in country, Harvath is paired up with a rugged former cop, whose job is not only to show him around, but also help tease out information from locals who may not be as happy to speak with a westerner. Harvath and his host learn a little more about the Indian underworld, in hopes of targeting a gangster who is said to have ruthless ways of dealing with his enemies. Harvath sets his sights on the man and hopes that a little cat and mouse play will lead to a quick capture, or extermination.

All the while, China is raising the stakes with a new and terrifying weapon. Using members of the Indian Army as test subjects, the Chinese hope to create new wave technology, blasting their enemies into submission, while doing a number on physiological aspects of the body as well. Harvath knows all too well what threat the Chinese hold and is sure that this is only the beginning. Working to catch a killer is but one aspect of the mission, but Scot Harvath cannot do it alone. He will need the help of a few locals to harness learning the ropes in a country whose rulebook differs greatly from American covert operations. Thor does a masterful job with this novel to keep the story fresh and the angles sharp.

While series fans have seen a great deal of transformation in Scot Harvath and the stories, there is something familiar with this piece that ties it all together. Well-paced and full of action, Thor painters a picture of a new 21st century threat and how conventional means will not work to solve the problem. Brad Thor is an author like no other, leaving the reader to dazzle in his abilities throughout this high-octane piece.

The world of espionage and covert operations requires constant tweaking to remain relevant without getting too technical. The reader needs to feel as though they are in the middle of the action, but also understand what is going on around them. Brad Thor’s narrative pace is such that things are ever-evolving, but at least not to the point that the reader feels left behind. A handful of returning characters help connect this piece to many of the others, while new faces help add a flavouring not seen in past Harvath novels. There is great character development, such that I want to know more about some of the newcomers, which I hope means they will be back soon. Plot twists emerge throughout, but things stay relatively true to current goings-on in the world, allowing the reader to feel as though they are part of the current international operative network and can trade the threats presented as real and potential in the coming years. I am eager to see how much more Scot Harvath has left in him, though am not tiring of his presence or how Brad Thor is developing the series.

Kudos, Mr. Thor, for another winner in this collection of intense novels. I wait to see what’s next in your arsenal and trust you will dazzle once more.