A Scot Harvath Thriller by Brad Thor
Review: In order to prevent a catastrophic terrorist attack on the US, covert operative Scot Harvath must go Full Black in this tenth thriller to feature the character by Brad Thor.
Harvath's operation in Sweden to take out a terrorist cell doesn't go quite as smoothly as planned and doesn't offer quite as much intelligence as he and his team expected. But despite the loss of life on both sides, something is gained from it, though it isn't until Harvath returns to the US that he's able to link the results of his operation to several other seemingly random events — the attempted murder of a Hollywood producer and a purported gas line explosion in Chicago, among others — leading him to the conclusion that a much larger plan is in place … one that may disrupt not only the lives of millions of Americans, but how the country continues to govern itself into the future.
The narrative style of Full Black is such that it is a balance of breathless, nonstop action sequences and detailed background and supporting information, with a healthy dose of introspective reflection included for good measure. Scot Harvath is the star here, and those chapters that feature him are the best of the book. The numerous, but never overly long, backstories help provide perspective for readers new to the series. When he's out of the picture, however, the excitement level measurably drops. Much of the reason for this is due to the way the storyline is structured, with chapters outlining events that occur in one place or time, and then Harvath reacting to them in later chapters. It's a fairly standard outline for how this type of thriller is written and as a consequence there's a certain comfortable familiarity for the reader. To the author's credit, Full Black never seems stale or derivative, though some of the secondary characters are not developed much beyond generic stereotypes.
Finally, the title is ever so slightly misleading. In a preface, "full black" is used to define the most secretive of classified assignments — those that are actually not classified or even recognized; they are those that simply don't exist. The term doesn't come into use in the book until well past the half-way point, and even then Harvath's mission hardly seems to qualify as "full black" as defined above. If applied broadly, Harvath's organization, the Carlton Group, always operates in "full black" mode, so it's never quite clear what the distinction is between what happens before the term is first used by Harvath and how that differs from what happens afterward.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of Full Black for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Athena Project
Atria Books (Hardcover), November 2010
ISBN-13: 9781439192955; ISBN-10: 1439192952
Location(s) referenced in Full Black: Sweden, Washington DC, Los Angeles, California
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Full Black by Brad Thor — A Scot Harvath Thriller
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 2011
List Price: $26.99