- - Thursday, June 29, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

No one writes a better thriller than Brad Thor — and “Use of Force,” released this week, will be viewed by many as his very best.

His works — 16 best-sellers over the past 15 years — are known for their fast-paced action and unusually clever twists and turns of riveting suspense that keep you on edge, anxiously racing through the pages wondering what could possibly come next and where it’s all going to lead.

An exciting and entertaining yet thought-provoking thriller, “Use Of Force” packs a particularly powerful punch not only because the action scenes are so realistically nerve-racking, but even more so because its plot — highly plausible and chillingly real and alarming — seems snatched from behind the scenes of current — or perhaps near future — world events.

This may be a work of fiction but the world Brad Thor focuses on happens to be the real world in which we now find ourselves: As technology boomed, life became easier. As life became easier, Americans grew softer. As Americans grew softer, the threats arrayed against the United States grew more deadly. Weakness encouraged aggression.

The aggressors are radical Islamic terrorists. The fundamentalism that drives them is a cancer. It infects almost everyone it touches. And yet, the people best positioned to remove the cancer lack the courage and the desire to do so. No matter how many atrocities were committed in the name of their religion and their God, the Muslim world seems wholly incapable of combating the problem.

As “Use of Force” opens, the president and the CIA know it’s only a matter of time before there will be horrific attacks by ISIS here in America and among our European allies. They view America as dithering and dozing during dangerous times and the Europeans as even less ready to respond.

They can see what’s coming if America doesn’t confront its enemies far more seriously: Like Israelis, Americans would find themselves in a state of constant siege. Beaches, restaurants, trains, buses, night clubs, grocery stores, schools, playgrounds, dog parks, movie theaters, sporting events, parades, shopping malls, even the places where they worshipped, nothing would be off-limits.

And so once again they turn to former U.S. Navy Seal Scot Harvath, the president’s personal secret weapon in the highly unconventional war he knows he must wage to counter and ultimately defeat the terrorists who threaten America. While Horvath works with the president and is directly involved with the CIA, he does so through a private and highly secretive intelligence operation headed by an icon of U.S. intelligence, a setup designed to enable the president and the top leadership of the CIA to have plausible deniability.

Harvath has a solid track record of being incredibly resourceful and effective. He terrorizes the terrorists. He’s given wide-ranging discretion. The extraordinarily tough beyond-top-secret actions he and others working at his direction instigate against the terrorists often stretch or exceed the boundaries of what is legally permitted.

What he’s engaged in is called black ops for good reason — knowledge of it should never see the light of day. If exposed his actions might well enable the loud vocal minority who’d rather opt for killing the enemy with kindness to succeed in politically destroying the president.

The dreaded time has come: ISIS has put in place evil plots to inflict catastrophic atrocities upon the United States and its European allies. All the intercepted chatter indicates so. Scot Harvath and everyone aligned with him race against time and uncertainty to connect each of the dots, which, taken together, might reveal exactly what evil ISIS has set in motion and try to figure out ways to possibly thwart impending disaster.

So many difficult dots to connect, so little time to do so, so much at stake. A well-plotted, nail-biting, white-knuckled ride takes readers to the Mediterranean Sea, the Nevada desert, Spain, France, Libya, Italy and the Vatican as we encounter a cast of scum of the Earth types affiliated with ISIS, the Mafia and the U.S. government and meet heroes who take them on against all odds.

Characteristic of Brad Thor, this is an exceedingly well researched work. He understands the countries; he understands the governments; he understands the weaponry; he understands history; he understands radical Islam; and his grasp of the struggle in which America finds itself at this point in our history far exceeds that of most people charged with a leadership role in this fight and even more so dwarfs that of nearly everyone reporting about it.

Read “Use of Force” for great entertainment. But also listen carefully to the alarm the author is sounding for our country.

•••USE OF FORCE•••
By Brad Thor
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, $27.99, 368 pages

• Fred J. Eckert, a former Republican congressman from New York who served as U.S ambassador to Fiji and the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, is a novelist.

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