Review: Path of the Assassin – Brad Thor

3 of 5 stars

Series: Scot Harvath 2

My version: Audobook
Fiction Thriller
Pocket Books
2003
StoryTel subscription


Navy SEAL turned Secret Service agent Scot Harvath follows bloody clues to silver-eyed elusive ruthless terrorist Hashim Nidal, who intends to topple Israel and America, and can be identified by only one person – Meg Cassidy. Across four continents, from Macau, Jerusalem, Chicago, Libya, Capri, and Rome, the deadly puzzle tests their limits and growing bond.


There’s still a lot wrong with this second outing, but there’s quite possibly more right than there was last time. Still too much “me too!”, but there are some signs of a  Brad Thor personality coming through. And both Thor and Harvath need a win in Path of the Assassin, after the fairly amateurish debacle (writing and character) of the first book, Lions of Lucerne. Mainly because after that one, I’m really struggling to take seriously Harvath as the the highly-trained, skilled, killer that he supposedly is in book two.

It doesn’t start well. As, when Thor writes:“For Scot Harvath, anything other than total success was not an option.” I’m thinking “unless you’re protecting the fucking President, of course!” (If you haven’t read the first book, it starts with Harvath being on the security team that allowed the President of the USA to be kidnapped from under their noses). Though I think that there may be a recognition that the first book went wrong at the start, as this one does seem to gloss over the previous book. As I said at the start, he is beginning to put things right as he does at least mention the incident, which is good.

Brad Thor does suffer from shite cover syndrome

Unfortunately, he does seem to feel the need to fall back on cheap thriller cliches. The women – those with speaking parts – are ‘unbelievably beautiful.’ Each one he meets ratchets up ‘the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen’ level. If this keeps up, by the tenth novel Harvath’s gonna explode! If he’s still alive, that is. And being American, there is this need to continually go one better; opponents, apparently, find Harvath “to be extremely lethal”? Surely, there aren’t grades of lethal? Well, if you’re an American thriller writer there are. The rest of us know you’re either lethal, or not. Just like you can’t be a ‘little bit’ pregnant, see?

The schoolboy errors in the writing are unfortunately equally matched (again) by schoolboy errors in the plot, and/or Harvath’s character/SEAL abilities. Surely…for example, in the casino, at the start, when they see the target and their ‘plant’. They recognise that the assassin had injured, possibly killed, their plant. They run towards where he is and the target was. And both of them stop to see how their plant is. After several minutes, when they’re sure he is ok, they ask “where did he go? How do we find him now?” Well, one of you should have gone after the guy, while the other, if necessary, stopped to help the plant! Schoolboy error! Then, as far as I could tell, Harvath’s main interrogation technique is just to repeat the last thing the other guy says! “I’m gonna blow up something and not tell you what.” “You’re gonna blow something up and not tell me what?” “OK,, it’s this…“Harvath needs to shape up and fast, or he’s gonna be a distant second, third, or last, to Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp. Actually, it isn’t a contest at the moment, as Rapp is by far the better written character. I say that as I see from several American thriller sites, that Thor and Flynn, Harvath and Rapp are mentioned as being equally compulsive. They’re not.

However, there are grounds for optimism. As long as he drops the James Bond film-like product placement – Nike. Five Guys. And for fuck’s sake, Fox News. If that last one gets mentioned again, I’m done. There are mentions of an opinion on Islam, a positive one, which I didn’t expect. So maybe it turns out that the book and Thor are maybe a lot more balanced than I expected. The story, 6th Form Schoolboy SEAL training problems aside, is pretty good – similar to Mitch Rapp in a way as well, in that the first few Rapp stories are him seeking revenge for Lockerbie, here Harvath is seeking revenge for the President’s kidnapping. Not, the ‘revenge’ rather than ‘justice,’ there’s no “we’ll let the courts decide” in the Rapp/Harvath universe. And, as I always think, is it enough to get me reading the next one. it’s a yes it is. So it must be OK at the very least.


You can buy Path of the Assassin at Booksplea.se


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