Code of Conduct: A Thriller (Scot Harvath Book 14) by Brad Thor. This is a NY Times best seller in the Paperback Mass-Market Fiction Category. Brad Thor is a well known bestselling author of the Scot Harvath Thriller series. His next book, entitled Foreign Agent, debuts June 14th.
What I liked.
The thriller genre is not as attractive to me as others I prefer to read more often. So I tend to be more demanding. I’ll often judge this type based on whether I feel compelled to skip ahead while reading (a bad sign). However, some would argue that the death knell for similar stories is when you put the book down and awhile later discover you haven’t picked it back up. Phrases like ‘page turner’ are key to separating the wheat from the chaff in this regard. Needless to say, Thor definitely does pass muster with this book. What need I say? There is a broad, ambitious story, involving the fate of mankind. Thor has mastered the art of maintaining tension and interest as characters navigate through conflicts that challenge their morality, their determination, and their intelligence.
Because of an epic scale that spans the globe, multiple groups of characters are introduced and reintroduced. Thor weaves these stories at a pace that allows you to keep track of who’s who, without bogging down the action. And there is plenty of action. As is typical of the genre, the violence ramps up towards the final climactic ending, and you will be ready when the time comes.
One perceived weakness of the genre is the balance of substance. Here we’re found wanting if it appears to be ‘all action, no talk’. Thor adds meat to the prose by interspersing political philosophy: it isn’t just good verses evil, but government bureaucracy verses individual liberty. So the conflict between ideas is just as entertaining as the cage fight spectacle.
What I didn’t like.
A story of this scope and style often treads lightly on character development. While there is enough there to like the good guys, and dislike the bad guys, I was still left wanting. Scot Harvath is a very well developed protagonist and you’re left with no doubt about his reasons why or raison d’etre, s’il vous plait. Not so much for the people around him. They are more or less two dimensional. For example the two prominent female characters are stereotypical archetypes. But that probably won’t bother the target demographic.
I had a similar issue with the villain. He had to be the nicest serial killer you ever met. What’s up with that! He leads a great life until he suffers a bad loss. Then he reads a bad book? So he goes crazy? Thor has quite the cautionary tale about being careful with your bedside reading choices!
What you should know.
For thriller and suspense lovers, this is definitely the ticket. With respect to the amount of violence, think early Schwarzenegger, if you want a movie comparison. Warning: know that these series can be highly addictive. You may find yourself up late at night and suddenly sleep deprived (and neglecting significant others a la Harvath). Take your time. There are plenty more where this came from if you haven’t read any of his novels before. If you have, don’t worry, you can buy a copy of Foreign Agent and get your fix this summer.
Recommendation: Must Read