This is a cleverly interwoven story. In Afghanistan, a young doctor is kidnapped and held by sympathisers keen to see the release of a terrorist. The fact that the doctor is young, attractive, female and American helps their cause somewhat – the fact that she’s also the daughter of the new President’s most enthusiastic supporter and media operative, Stephanie Gallo, is more important. She knows where the President’s skeletons lie buried. So the President has little choice when Gallo demands that he support her in hiring Harvath, a mercenary.
The initial feel of the story is that the plot is all based in Afghanistan, and I did not expect to enjoy it when I picked it up. There are so many ruddy stories set over there, involving duplicitous Taliban or (please no more!) al-Qaeda terrorists. But I shouldn’t have been worried. Brad Thor has the gift of making the landscape come alive, and his story is too well plotted for the reader to get bogged down in Taliban turmoil.
If the story was only that, it would be a good read, but Thor has incorporated a subplot that gradually teases out a murder story too, which implicates the President. It’s this, and the detective work by a young Secret Service agent that brings the story up, I think, and made it one of the best thrillers of 2010.
All in all, a well-crafted story, well told.
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