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Use of Force

Review

Use of Force

“Citius venit malum quam revertitur.” This Latin phrase translates literally to “Evil arrives faster than it departs.” In the case of the latest Scot Harvath adventure, USE OF FORCE, this reference is specifically targeting the myriad of terrorist groups and cells that have a death grip over many countries on our planet.

When you pick up a novel by Brad Thor, you should prepare to become fully immersed in the machinations and inner workings of modern-day counterterrorism operations. In fact, you have no better guide than Thor for this journey. In the months following the horrific events of 9/11, Thor participated in various think tank meetings that were attended by an invitation grouping of key representatives across all U.S. government agencies. What Thor actually places in his books is only the tip of the iceberg as to what he actually is aware of regarding counterterrorism --- giving his work not only instant credibility but also leaving his readers with many sleepless nights.

"What I respect most about Brad Thor and Scot Harvath is their unabashed conservatism. They don't care what others think of them --- they just focus on getting the job done."

USE OF FORCE opens with a bang. A harrowing opening scene depicts a desperate phone call to the Italian Coast Guard from a boat heading towards Italy. The craft was filled with men, women and children, and the terrifying distress call came amidst a violent storm. There was not a single life vest on board, making the likelihood of anyone surviving on the open sea almost impossible. As feared, there are no survivors from this ill-fated journey. However, the body of one man washes ashore several days later and is identified as a known, deadly terrorist. This leaves the Italian government, as well as the rest of Europe, confounded as to what he was doing amongst a boat filled with innocent civilians and, more troubling, what mission of evil he was on.

Thor pulls no punches, as you can see from this opening sequence. Of course, when the best in the business is required for a mission to battle terrorism, one of the first calls is going to be made to Navy Seal turned covert counterterrorism agent Scot Harvath. The body that washed ashore in Italy represented a terrorist of deadly repute who had been under the radar for three years. Could this man be one of the key figures in the rumored summer attack upon Europe? The U.S. government needs to know, and that means Harvath is provided with the usual carte blanche to operate under his own radar and do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of these recent events while hopefully preventing another catastrophic attack.

Before Harvath and his squad can really get things going with their Black Ops mission, another attack occurs. This one is in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The explosions kill over 400 innocents, 92 of whom are Americans. If it wasn't personal for Harvath before, now there is definitely no turning back. They still need to get to the bottom of who the mystery man washed up on the Italian beach was and what role he needed to play.

The team begins by tracking down and capturing known ISIS terrorist Halim, who is tortured in order to give up the big plot. There are scenes that are difficult to read, but you will not be able to turn away. Harvath brings on the aid of an Italian agent who he actually met years earlier on another mission. Even with the progress Harvath and his people have made, it will not be enough to prevent another attack. The next one hits in the heart of Paris, and the scenes of death and dismemberment quickly are shared by French Intelligence. The most horrible statistic of all is that most of those killed were children and young adults as the terrorists targeted a popular carnival.

Harvath knows that this is still not the big one. The terrorists are targeting a location that will strike directly at the heart of their enemies --- a sacred location that ISIS hopes will mark the beginning of the downfall of their enemies. Next would be Israel followed by the United States. These monsters will not stop until those who oppose them are permanently eliminated. It will take every resource and ounce of grit and determination for Harvath to be the hero once again. However, it comes at a huge price, one that Harvath and company might not be able to pay.

What I respect most about Brad Thor and Scot Harvath is their unabashed conservatism. They don't care what others think of them --- they just focus on getting the job done. Thor never minces words and clearly gets across his point about the tactics necessary to win the current war on terrorism, and not simply sit by and let this be “the new normal.” THE LIONS OF LUCERNE is his first novel and remains my favorite, but USE OF FORCE is a close second. I sleep better at night knowing that people like Thor and Harvath are out there doing what the rest of us are unable to do to keep our world safe.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 29, 2017

Use of Force
by Brad Thor

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
  • ISBN-10: 147678938X
  • ISBN-13: 9781476789385