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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Black List (audiobook) (Scot Harvath #11) by Brad Thor

A question of who will find whom first. 

Published by Simon and Schuster Audio in 2012.
Read by Armand Schultz
Duration: 12 hours, 3 minutes.

Brad Thor changes things up a bit for his long-running character Scot Harvath in this installment. Usually, Harvath is out in the world at large fighting international terrorists. Harvath's unique talents and dogged determination make him a very powerful weapon in the world of counter-terrorism.

In Black List, Harvath and a member of the Athena team (the all female Delta Force-type unit) are attacked when entering a safe house in Paris, France. She dies and Harvath barely escapes. He uses his extensive contacts to work his way to safety and try to figure out how the safe house was compromised. As he tries to re-connect to his employer it dawns on him that his entire network of operatives is under attack - and this time the enemy is not a terrorist network. This time, the enemy is an American enemy and Harvath is coming home to find this enemy and get his revenge.

At the same time, Harvath's boss, Reed Carlton, whose operation was attacked, has survived and is using an even older network of contacts (think old-fashioned blind drops and chalk marks) to hide and begin to do some hunting of his own.

Of course, Carlton and Harvath are being actively pursued by someone with a lot of technical resources and as they find more and more clues and  the breadth of the threat becomes more apparent it becomes a question of who will find whom first.

I enjoyed the action but I really enjoyed the use of technology in the book. Thor tells the readers in the first line of the book: "All of the technology contained in this novel is based upon systems currently being deployed, or i n the final stages of development, by the United States government and its partners." As computer memory becomes cheaper and smaller groups intelligence gathering becomes very thorough. If the government records and saves almost everything, well, than it will be harder to miss something (so long as you can sift through it all).

Most interesting to me was one leg of Horvath's search was done completely with online tools that we all have access to - a search engine, Facebook and an online map. Very clever and pretty scary to think that we leave all of these digital clues to our own lives all over the internet.

Armand Schultz read the book. I enjoyed his voice characterization with the exception of the Scot Harvath character (the main one, unfortunately). He did so much else well. For example, his Spanish was correctly pronounced, he recognized the differences between the Mexican and the Spanish accents and his characters were easy to distinguish.

However, I am only giving this book 4 stars rather than 5. There are some tiresome cliches, such as finding one of the bad guys in a sexually compromised position with a dominatrix. This is the second time I have ran across that one in a bestseller in the last month. Also, there are two graphic torture scenes administered by the good guys. If that sort of thing turns your stomach, you are hereby warned.

The audiobook includes a half hour conversation between Brad Thor and the reader, Armand Schulz. They discuss how they do their different jobs, motivations, difficulties and how to balance work with family time.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Black List.

Reviewed on August 15, 2012.

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