Backlash (Scot Harvath #19), by Brad Thor

Eight stars

Hip-deep into the Scot Harvath series, Brad Thor continues to deliver poignant novels that pull the reader into the middle of the political and espionage-driven world of today. When local authorities are called to a rural community in New Hampshire, they discover four bodies, carelessly slain. The names raise a red flag in the Intelligence community, beginning calls high up the chain of command. With ties to all those slain, one name being suggested as a potential shooter is Scot Harvath, but could he really have killed these people? It turns out not, as Harvath is aboard a covert plane somewhere in Russia, chained to a seat by mercenaries who have no worries about treating their prisoner poorly. When the plane goes down, Harvath is the only survivor, but perhaps not for long. He is in the middle of the Russian wilderness during the height of winter, with only the howling of the wind and wolves to keep him company. If he wants to stay alive, he will have to use all his training to find safety. In Moscow, the news of the crash raises the ire of senior officials, who had hoped for a smooth ‘snatch and grab’ of the Intelligence operative. Now, they will have to locate the wreckage and capture Harvath again. In Washington, those close to Harvath cannot believe that he would be responsible, but know that he was in New Hampshire. They discover that he may have been covertly removed from the country and begin their own mission to extricate him, while not tipping the balance of international diplomacy. Russia has all but declared war on America with such an act, but that is for the politicians to iron out. While working on a plan to get to safety, Harvath will have to survive and stay off the proverbial radar. When he comes to a small community near the Finnish border, he does all he can to stay alive and one step ahead of his captors. The race is on to find Harvath and to the winner comes the spoils. With an international disaster looming below the surface, the new Cold War could be close. Thor delivers again with a stellar novel that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and Harvath donning a few more scars. Recommended for fans of the series as well as the reader who loves thrillers of an espionage and political flavour.

I have loved most every one of the Harvath thrillers that Thor has penned, finding myself in the middle of their action and political fallout. Thor is able to capture the essence of the story and add his own political flavouring, which keeps the reader wondering if this could actually happen in today’s world. Harvath has lasted for eighteen previous novels, so his scars are plentiful and his stubbornness on point. The reader can sense something else fuelling him in this piece, that being the loss of (another) loved one to those who would see him destroyed. While somewhat reflective on all that he has done in life, there is also a strong sense that Harvath needs to bring about revenge for the loss of a loved one. Thor adds some other interesting information tied to the gathering in New Hampshire, which the reader can discover as they make their way through the narrative. Packed with many returning characters, Thor entertains with some of the unique individuals who appear in many of the nineteen books this series have been published. These characters work well together and blend effectively to create a strong narrative and exciting story. Speaking of the story, it remains strong and kept moving in a forward direction, offering interesting perspectives for those who enjoy espionage with a political angle. Thor has been able to keep his stories strong and uses the current political and social situation to fuel the narrative, rather than relying on past—read: Islamic terror—themes that have long since been flogged to death. While I know the aches and pains must be getting quite troublesome, I wonder if there is another novel or two left in Scot Harvath, or ideas that Thor still wants to tackle.

Kudos, Mr. Thor, for a wonderful addition to the series. I cannot wait to see what else you have for us and hope your fans enjoy this piece as much as I did.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: