Blowback (2005)

It’s been a while since I last read a Brad Thor novel, but when I noticed that our readership has sustained interest in the reviews of the first three books in the series, I decided to seek out the fourth. Reading a Brad Thor novel, unlike some other some authors, takes considerable effort. His books are heavy, like a rich dessert, and they take time to consume and digest with their multiple subplots, and far flung foreign locations. Still, for those that persevere, the reward is worth it.

The title, Blowback, refers to when a CIA plan goes awry, and there is fallout. Once again, like in Thor’s other books, the hero is Scott Harvath, the all-American ex-SEAL, ex-Secret Service Agent, who does the President’s special missions which frequently involve “coloring outside the lines,” to get the job done. Early on in the novel, Harvath is once again outside the bounds of his authority, and he is bordering on being a rogue agent (in other words, just about where he is in the previous three novels). One plot involves his continuing hunt for a high ranking terrorist that he sparred with in the second novel.

The other major plot involves an unconventional weapon with Islamic terrorism behind it. Interestingly, the author did some research and incorporates a biological weapon that was planned to be used by Hannibal, the Carthaginian with those war elephants in the Alps, on his attack of the Roman Empire in ancient times. This has kind of a paleopathlogy twist to it, as an ancient disease is on the verge of being reintroduced into modern times with potentially devastating results. Harvath is once again off to save the world- again!

Another aspect of the novel involves the “What if?” scenario of a united Muslim world, and what this would mean to the future world order. It’s kind of intriguing to realize that if combined, a combined Muslim nation could easily rival any world power for domination. I always liked geopolitics, and these kind of scenarios, although not the simplest to cook up, are interesting to consider.

As Blowback progresses, we are taken to both several European and Middle Eastern locations. I also liked that we go back to an area of Switzerland from the first novel, The Lions of Lucerne, and even reuse a character. A good serial writer can make things mesh like that, and Thor shows us once again, that he is up to the task.

Blowback is a more serious kind of thriller novel. While it is a little over 400 pages, with so many locations and plots, it reads like something considerably longer. While it requires more concentration than some other fiction, and can’t be read in an afternoon at the beach, it is well worth the effort. If you want a global thriller on a grand scale, than Blowback is for you.

Overall Grade: A-

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