Black List is the latest mass-market paperback from bestselling god of thriller thunder Brad Thor, where once again, we see Thor’s Valhallian super hero Scot Harvath battle it out with bad guys aplenty—and hurrah to that we hear you cry.
Now the more purist Crimeziners may already be grumbling that Brad Thor is not a crime writer, he is a purveyor of the political thriller. This however is the genius of Thor, because he has chosen to subvert the crime thriller genre into a modern hybrid that mixes Pattersonian plot twists with the high-concept thrills of big budget thriller mongers, like Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum.
Thankfully, Thor edits out much of the waffle that so many of Clancy’s great works are so prone to, and whilst Thor is no stranger to the concept of digression, he manages for the most part to keep it in check.
Brad Thor is no fool. He realizes that the days of the donkey-choking thousand page super thriller are as out of vogue as a Leonid Brezhnev’s hammer and sickle undershorts. He realizes also that the endless convoluted blah of the Ludlumian oeuvre has to be distilled to appeal to the modern reader. Thus, Thor is more born again than Bourne Identity.
The god of thunder does however share certain traits of his literary heroes, Clancy and Ludlum. His work is written from an unashamedly conservative viewpoint and he is not shy about bashing the neo conservative piñatas, namely the world of fundamentalist Islam and the Federal Government.
That Thor should choose radical Islam for his jingoistic attentions is no surprise, crime writers have been vilifying cultural diversity for decades—the Yellow Peril, the Red Menace—it has all been done many times before. That Thor lambasts his targets with the vigor of a “tea-party patriot” certainly gives his work a novel, if rather cartoonish edge and whilst his outspoken views on Islam have made him the kind of enemies many would be reluctant to make, the god of thunder is unconcerned. Nor does his seem to mind that the inevitable consequence of surfing the zeitgeist so closely is that he runs the risk of being outmoded by world events.
So what is the Black List exactly? Glad you asked Crimeziners. Because it would appear Big Government has a list of folks it doesn’t like, and it is whittling away the troublemakers by carrying out extrajudicial killings. Yikes! It gets worse. When hero Scot Harvath finds his name is on the said list, he has to find out why and fast. Pretty soon a whole host of unsavory revelations come floating to the surface, and wouldn’t you know it, the very idea of “freedom” itself is in danger. Double yikes! In the light of the revelations by Commie Traitor/ Hero of the People, Edward Snowdon, the conspiracy outlined in Black List is both prescient and timely, confirming fears in many quarters and raising wry eyebrows in others.
As Havarath journeys across the world in pursuit of answers, the body count rises rapidly. We get mystery. We get suspense and a building sense of conspiracy at every turn. Sadly however, we also get a great deal of soggy speculation and passive exposition that slams the breaks on the plot—a necessary precaution to prevent readers from quite literally soiling themselves with excitement? We leave that to the conscience of the individual Crimeziner. However—when you find out just how deep the conspiracy goes, you will no doubt find yourself pounding Xanax and speed dialing the Glen Beck show to protest the dystopian depths that the once proud nation called America is sinking.
Brad meanwhile is a cool, cool cat and after the recent untimely death of his leading competitor the grammatically challenged Vince Flynn, Thor is now at the very pinnacle of the political conspiracy tree. If you are in a hardback kind of mood his latest thriller Hidden Order is out now. If you want to read the book that had certain pudding-faced pundits referring to Thor as “the new Salman Rushdie” check out The Last Patriot. Or thrill poolside to any one of the Biblical thirteen reads the god of thriller thunder [™ Crimezine ] has penned to date. Love him or loathe him, you simply will not be able to ignore Brad Thor.