Black Ice (Scot Harvath #20), by Brad Thor

Eight stars

It’s always a pleasure to read Brad Thor’s novels and what he’s done with his protagonist, Scot Harvath. There is never a lack of action or thrills woven into a story that has political implications. While Harvath has been pushed to the brink over the last few years, he’s come to find the solace he so desperately deserves. Spending time in Norway with a new romantic interest, Harvath is enjoying the quieter life as best he can. However, when he sees a man he was sure he’d killed, Harvath can only surmise that trouble is on the way. Little does he know just how heated things will get in Norway and the Arctic region before too long, thrusting him into the middle of an operation like no other. A riveting piece by a master of the genre!

Scot Harvath is finally able to spend some downtime, after a horrible few years. Tucking himself away in Norway with his girlfriend, Sølvi, Harvath is able to enjoy a vacation for once in his life. What could be better than this bucolic region of the world, with no cares to drag him back into the fight?

While out one day, Harvath cannot help but do a double take, as he sees a man he is sure was dead. What’s worse, this man is no ordinary individual, but a Chinese operative with a penchant for sinister things. Harvath will have to make a decision: ignore it and enjoy his life or alert the Americans and perhaps be thrust into the middle of a manhunt.

As the story progresses, Harvath agrees to work with some of his colleagues to determine what’s going on in Norway and how it an be halted. It would seem that the Arctic region has become part of a larger plan for both the Chinese and the Russians. Melting ice has left the region open for exploration, as well as hidden nuclear technologies. Wait too long and these two countries will have powers that cannot be stopped. Strike too soon and it could scare them away, only to re-emerge elsewhere. It will be a race against the clock, as Harvath works once again to protect the world from the powers of evil. Thor does a masterful job at keeping the story fresh and the reader fully engaged.

I have long come to enjoy the release of anything that includes Scot Harvath, as the entertainment value is usually quite high. This is no exception, mixing the grit of the man’s past with some of the softer sides to him, rarely seen in novels. That there is a new race and technological issue proves useful as well, allowing the reader to feel rejuvenated with something not seen before, rather than the same old thing once again.

Scot Harvath proves to be a wonderful protagonist yet again, pursuing things to the brink and keeping the reader on their toes. There are two sides to the man that emerge, something that series fans may not be used to seeing regularly. His softer side is sobering, though it is unfortunately short lived. Grit and determination fuel him throughout this piece, leaving the reader to see the man who has earned every one of his scars.

As with many of the novels in this series, there is a handful of key supporting characters whose presence only adds to the piece. Be it with needed banter or added grit, these individuals add depth to the story and keep Harvath on his toes. The obvious inclusion of a few nemeses for Harvath adds a darker side to things, though it is by no means troublesome. In fact, without them, the story would likely fall flat.

Brad Thor has proven to be adept at crafting these sorts of stories with ease, pushing the reader to the brink as the try to keep pace. The ideas are unique and separate themselves from many of the usual plots that emerge in stories of this nature, allowing the reader to wonder how much could actually occur in today’s world. With a narrative that pushes things along well and chapters that rarely leave time to breathe, Thor develops a story that is both intriguing and addictive. Those who enjoy espionage and counterintelligence novels will surely enjoy this piece, as well as the rest of the series. While we are twenty books in, the intensity has not lessened and there is always something for the reader to enjoy. I cannot wait to see what’s to come.

Kudos, Mr. Thor, on another winner. I am a true fan and reading to tell the world!

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