As much as Scott Harvath has enjoyed his time with Solvi in Oslo he’s out of vacation days and, truthfully ready to get back to work. As he’s grocery shopping for their special dinner together, Harvath sees a ghost. Not just any ghost but a guy he killed in China, only this man is very much alive. Which raises two important questions: How is it he’s still alive? And what is he doing here in Norway? Harvath knows that whatever it is it won’t be legal and could well prove deadly. His quest for answers will take him far up to the Arctic Circle as he works against the clock to thwart a joint Chinese/Russian operation to steal new technology that will greatly increase their nuclear capabilities and allow them to dominate the region.
Anytime the Chinese and Russians put their heads together it’s bad news for the U.S. but this would be nothing short of disastrous in light of the rapidly melting polar ice cap that is opening up new shipping lanes, thereby greatly reducing China’s shipping costs. Scott has to find and recover this new piece of technology that’s been dubbed “Black Ice” before the Chinese and Russians working together get it out of Norway. If Harvath felt the least bit of ambivalence before, it’s gone now. He is totally committed to taking out both operatives permanently.
“Black Ice” is the 20th book in the Scott Harvath series and author Brad Thor has mellowed him just enough that he is thinking about a future involving more than just his next operation. That slight softening around the edges only adds to his steely grit and determination to best his enemy and come out on top. As always, Harvath’s exploits are action-packed and challenging, as if trying to survive polar bears and the brutal weather conditions of the Arctic Circle aren’t torturous enough. Brad Thor keeps our protagonist involved in timely world issues that lend credence to his exploits and gently nudges the readers to sit up and pay attention and expand their vision of the world around them. That said, the pacing fell off and got a bit draggy with the introduction and sexual involvement of Spencer Baldwin the political fixer and Xing Fen, one of four Vice Premiers of the PRC. It didn’t add any value to the story and was more a distraction that interrupted the flow of action. Despite that shortcoming it’s still a cracking good yarn. Four stars.