- The Lions Of Lucerne—Scott is a Secret Service agent assigned to guard the president's daughter on a presidential vacation, a ski trip in the US. The bodyguard gets killed, and the president kidnapped. Various baddies, including crooked politicians, are involved.
- Path Of The Assassin—Scott tracks down the mastermind behind the failed kidnapping attempt on the President's life.
- State Of The Union—During the Cold War the Soviet Union and the US both had sleeper agents who could be woken up to detonate suitcase nukes. These are
man portablenukes that can be easily concealed and will yield upon detonation about 2–3 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. Scott has to track down the people who have plotted to initiate an attack on the US. He has about a week to do it in.
- Blowback—I don't know how true it is that various armies have used biological warfare; I find the stuff about smallpox blankets dubious, but this one advances the idea that Hannibal had a bioweapon that he intended to use against the Romans. Now Hannibal had a crushing success at Cannae, which, like Meade after Gettysburg, he failed to follow up on, and lost big time a number of years later at Zama, and there's no record of him using anything like bioweapons in either of those two battles, so we have to suppose that something happened to the bioweapon before he reached Italy. The ideal place for that to happen is the Alps. 2,000+ years later the bioweapon is discovered. It's Scott Harvath's task to stop the weapon from being used.
Thor has managed to come up with a name for one of his bad women, a carpetbagging Senator modeled on Hilary Rodham Clinton, that's fully as ugly as the original's: Helen Remington Carmichael. His descriptions of her also fit HRC to a tee:
"Ever the savvy politico, Carmichael had been working hard to soften her image, but no matter what she did, everything about her still screamed bitch. While some of her aides privately debated whether or not she should ditch the pantsuits and grow her hair out, there were others who said none of it would matter. No matter how you dressed or coiffed her, the woman not only acted like a bitch, she just plain looked like one.”" And this one manages to capture how many people feel about the real HRC:
"Nobody gives a sh*t what you’ve done for the state of Pennsylvania. If it weren’t for your husband, you wouldn’t have that job in the first place. What’s more, you’ve got a sh***y public image. Half of voting Americans, hell, half of your own constituents think you’re a raging bull dyke, and the other half think the only reason you’re in office is to help facilitate your husband’s business deals.”"
- Takedown—I'm currently reading this one, in between watching old movies as part of The Story of Film. This one is about an attack on NYC by a terrorist group that is attempting to get a prisoner back. Update—Scot meets up with the girl who will be his love interest through several books. What sex there is in these books is pretty tame in its description.
- The First Commandment—The first commandment is not to negotiate with terrorists. Naturally the president does just that, and just as naturally he tells our hero not to do anything. Of course, he doesn't obey that silly order, and he winds up fighting not just the bad guys, but the nominal good guys of the US government.
- The Last Patriot—The premise here is that Mohammed had a final revelation that abrogated the violent passages of the Koran. Thomas Jefferson, while minister to France, discovers evidence of the revelation, and encodes his discovery using the wheel cipher that he invented. This is the second time that Jefferson's wheel cipher machine has been in a thriller. The other time I read a thriller featuring the machine was in The Jefferson Key, which I commented on here. Thor is not a satirist, but he can be bitterly sarcastic as in this description of what is pretty transparently the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
"The Saudi-funded Foundation on American Islamic Relations, or FAIR as it was ironically known, was one of the biggest Islamist front organizations in the United States. It had offices across the country with representatives who rushed to the microphones any time a Muslim was accused of anything. They were knee-jerk reactionaries who trotted out the dreaded Islamophobia slur before knowing any of the facts of a case." The current president, Jack Rutledge, believes that by finding the lost revelation the Islamist jihad would have to question the authenticity of its beliefs, and the political version of Islam would die out. An interesting premise. If an Islamic version of the Higher Criticism were introduced, i.e., scholarship that treated the Koran as a document written by human hands, would it reform Islam into a version of Laodicean Anglicanism? It would probably have some emotional effect on part of the Muslim world, and would probably result in some becoming more tolerant, but it wouldn't have enormous short-term effect. It took mainstream Christian churches a long time, several decades at least, to integrate Biblical research into their dogmatic systems, and there are still holdouts in some churches. So in 50 or a 100 years you might see Islamic fundamentalism reduced to a nasty minority, but it would have no immediate effect on the war on terror.
“Muslims pulled over with pipe bombs in their trunk? Those are just fireworks and the law enforcement officer responsible is nothing more than a bigoted Islamophobe.
“Muslim imam airline passengers praying loudly right at the gate, deriding America in Arabic, switching seats to configurations similar to the 9/11 hijackers, and asking for seat belt extenders that could be used as weapons although they are not overweight and simply leaving them at their feet? These poor men are guilty of nothing more than flying while Muslim. And FAIR will help coordinate the imams’ lawsuits against the Islamophobic passengers who were unnecessarily frightened and reported the men’s completely normal activity to the flight crew.”
- The Apostle—There are two plots running concurrently in this one is the kidnapping and rescue of an American doctor who is the daughter of a financial banker of the new president. The second is an investigation into the death of a women the president was having an affair with. While Thor modeled a previous character on Hilary Clinton, and the president in this story has some affinities with the current inhabitant of the White House, he's not Obama. Thor does make some decent observations:
" There aren’t many honest men or women in Washington anymore. Politicians get where they are by the sheer force of their egos, not their convictions. And you know what? It’s our fault as voters. We don’t demand better candidates, so we end up getting what we deserve—on both sides of the aisle.”*" Or this one on women in burqas:
*Brad Thor. The Apostle (Kindle Locations 1013-1015). Simon and Schuster.
" Cultural sensitivity be damned, it was a practice Harvath found demeaning to Muslim women. Walking around with a bag over your head was walking around with a bag over your head. It made no difference how apologists for Islam tried to bullshit it as liberating and empowering for women. No matter where he encountered them, they reminded him of aliens that had just climbed off a spaceship from some strange planet far, far away.”*" Then there's this one that carries political incorrectness to the extreme:
*Brad Thor. The Apostle (Kindle Locations 2141-2144). Simon and Schuster.
"If the world could see these assholes for the animals they really were, maybe there wouldn’t be such a hue and cry from the fools who wanted to afford them all of the protections due signers of the Geneva and Hague conventions. Forget the fact that idiots like the Taliban weren’t signers of either Geneva or Hague, refused to appear on the battlefield wearing even so much as an armband to identify themselves as honorable combatants, and wreaked untold misery upon civilian populations—the major group the conventions were designed to protect."
"Harvath just couldn’t understand the liberal mindset. He was convinced that they believed deeply in what they said and what they did; his only problem was that it so often flew in the face of reality. They continually focused their rage on their protectors rather than their enemy. They denigrated their country, believing it was the source of all evil in the world. The truth was, when it came to Islam, it had been violent since its inception. Its clearly stated goal was worldwide conquest. It was a mandate handed down in all of its religious texts. And while Harvath believed there were peaceful and moderate Muslims, he knew from studying the religion that there was no such thing as peaceful and moderate Islam."
"The entire religion was a mess and needed a complete gut-rehab. And though he had a good feeling his country’s new president would probably not agree with him, he also knew that until the politically correct crowd stopped making excuses for them and undercutting any motivation to reform their religion themselves, the majority of Muslims wouldn’t do anything. Their religion forbade them from even changing one word of the Qur’an. Islam had been Islam for fourteen hundred years and what it had been was violent. As far as Harvath was concerned, they could have the rest of the world, but they couldn’t have his country.”*" One bit of silliness comes when he mentions Amtrak's so-called high-speed train, the Acela:
Brad Thor. The Apostle (Kindle Locations 3119-3132). Simon and Schuster.
"The Secret Service agent had caught a high-speed Acela Express from Washington to Penn Station and from there the Long Island Railroad via Jamaica Station out to the easternmost town on the South Shore of Long Island. Standing beneath the portico was Detective Rita Klees.”*"
*Brad Thor. The Apostle (Kindle Locations 1829-1831). Simon and Schuster.The Northeast Regional, according to Amtrak's timetable, takes 3 hours and 20 minutes from Washington, DC's Union Station to Penn Station in NYC. The Acela, according to the same timetable, takes 2 hours and 46 minutes, a savings of a whopping 34 minutes, for twice as much in fare ($102–$143 for Northeast Regional vs.$205–$321 for Acela.)
- Foreign InfluenceA bomb goes off in Rome that kills a group of American students. At the same time a woman in Chicago is involved in a hit and run. Investigations by Scott and by a PI in Chicago eventually become intertwined. The resolution reveals a terrorist plot aimed at lessening America's influence in the world.
- The Athena Project—As far as I know there aren't female members of Delta Force, but the premise of this one is that there are. Supposedly women attract less hostile attention than men, and are able to go places where men aren't as likely to. There's a bit of a science fiction element here with the McGuffin involving quantum transportation and EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) weaponry.
Thor again has some interesting observations. Here's one that reminds me of my high school days (1960–64). Back then my high school had a rifle team that had practice at Henderson Hall, a Marine facility. I didn't participate then, but it's quite possible that back in those days that students drove to high school with rifles in their cars, and that not too much was thought of it. So this passage has a bit of resonance:
"When our sheriff sees a ten-year-old boy walking down the road with a rifle he doesn’t call a SWAT team, he asks the boy how the hunting is.”*"
Brad Thor. The Athena Project (Kindle Locations 1100-1101). Atria Books.
One of the female in interrogating a bad guy, a lawyer, and is about to apply some pliers to delicate parts:
"Casey took the pliers from her. ‘My colleague doesn’t like lawyers very much.’ ‘Who does?’ replied Kojic with a shrug.”*"
Brad Thor. The Athena Project (Kindle Locations 3329-3330). Atria Books.
- Full Black—The bad guy here is modeled on one of Glenn Beck's favorite bad guys, George Soros, though here he's called James Standing. Here is Thor's description of and comment on Standing:
"Standing is a full-on sociopath. Nothing about him makes sense. Despite being born and raised Jewish, he’s a rabid anti-Semite. Despite being a billionaire many times over, he’s a vehement anticapitalist. Despite having benefitted greatly from everything America has done to empower the individual, he is a vocal proponent of social engineering and the redistribution of wealth.”"
"One of the best descriptions of him I ever heard was that he was a malignant, messianic narcissist who, left unchecked, would bring about horrors beyond those performed by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot.”*"
*Brad Thor (2011-01-01 00:00:00-05:00). Full Black (Kindle Locations 1143-1148). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.Thor has one passage in which he very elegantly catches the superior attitude that looks down upon the very people it claims to help. Standing has been summoned away from a dinner at which an expensive bottle of wine had been opened:
" Though he would only pour it down the drain once he got home, Standing certainly wasn’t going to gift such an expensive bottle of wine to a mere waiter.”*"
*Brad Thor (2011-01-01 00:00:00-05:00). Full Black (Kindle Locations 2848-2849). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.Thor takes a conservative, possibly libertarian position politically. One of his characters describes what in many cases is the attitude of all too many liberals:
" There’s a group of people, though, who believe that you and I are too stupid to make our own decisions and that they should do it for us. Despite America being the greatest force for good in the history of the world, they see it as greedy and evil. They’ve been tearing it apart bit by bit for decades and have become desperate to finish the job. They believe they can and should use any means necessary to get across the goal line, no matter what the cost.”*"
*Brad Thor (2011-01-01 00:00:00-05:00). Full Black (Kindle Locations 1136-1139). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
- Black List—In this one a government contractor for the NSA is the bad guy. We have the usual problems, and Scot is once again the target of malevolent elements within the government.
- Hidden Order—This one is interesting because the bad guys are part of an influential quasi-governmental organization established in 1913, part of which bears responsibility form making the crash of 1929 worse than it should have been, and leading to the first Great Depression. Harvath gets to ride in an Aerion Supersonic Business Jet, a neat feat because it's not supposed to be ready until 2021 or thereabouts. I'm not sure that the organization is quite as malevolent as Thor describes it, but then I have a bit of an interest here because Cynthia gets a pension from the nefarious ones.