Tag: Spy Novel

Near Dark Book Review

Readers familiar with the work of Brad Thor are sure to love Near Dark, his latest novel featuring Scot Harvath, from the beginning. First time readers may need to have patience. The first hundred pages or so provide important back story on Harvath. As a new reader of Thor’s work, the novel reminded me of fire. A slow burn at the beginning results in the best of bonfires.

Near Dark Action

The action does begin right off the bat. But, unfamiliarity with the series, may take a reader a while to warm up to the protagonist. A drunk, seemingly washed out and broken spy stirs sympathy from the beginning. And little regard for potential ability. This is why I think previous fans of Brad Thor’s lead character have an advantage.

Fortunately, the action carries the novel in the beginning. The excellent writing takes over from there. Harvath’s personality seeps out past the hard liquor-again a tribute to the writer, while the action moves from locale to locale.

Revenge is not always served cold. Near Dark is a story of retribution. Pinpointing those responsible for life lost falls to Harvath and a stunning Norwegian counterpart, Sølvi Kolstad. Both are motivated to work together, tracking the killer of a mutual friend and mentor, even though they themselves had never met.

Kolstad is an equal to Harvath. The author does not fall into the trap of having the female agent more vulnerable. Indeed, she provides strength and not just from her willingness to take brutal action. Her character is intelligent and very likable. I hope she makes a re-appearance in future novels.

Scot Harvath

I grew to love the character of Harvath. Trained as a man who evens scores, he retains his own moral compass. The author has created a fully rounded character. Brains, brawn and psyche are well weaved into the story.

Perhaps the moment of truth for me came on Page 255 of Near Dark where Harvath muses on the fact “We all have our crosses to bear. What’s more, we wouldn’t trade ours for someone else’s.” How could this character not reach out to the reader on an inner level?

Brad Thor

Thor is a new writer to me but has been writing many years and is a best-selling author. The greatest thrill of reviewing books for the blog is finding a new series to devour. Thor is more than a prolific writer. While his message maybe akin to that of Helen MacInnes, what I appreciate the most is the willingness to insert thought provoking philosophy, as highlighted above, into an action packed spy thriller.

Brad Thor has a presence on social media as well as his own website, which you can access by clicking here. A quick search about the author revealed a few insights politically and professionally. Not much at all about his private life. Yet another reason to respect Brad Thor.

Whether you are a big fan or if you have never read one of Thor’s books, Near Dark will make you want to read another. Well done, Mr. Thor.

New York Station Book Review

Book cover of New York Station and poster of Saratoga racetrack.
New York Station takes place in and around Saratoga Springs.

New York Station by Lawrence Dudley is the perfect example of a writer using current events for inspiration. Recently I have read several books involving fixed elections. New York Station is the best of those. Perhaps the fact the book uses an election prior to the United States’ entry into the Second World War plays a part in my enjoyment. I like historical fiction.

Roy Hawkins is the central character in New York Station. He is half American and half British. Hawkins is a spy for the Brits and the opening scene place him in Paris as the Germans roll in. The main purpose for this setting is to give the character a position in the war as a contrast to the many isolationists later introduced in the book.

The novel’s move to New York establishes Dudley’s point of view. The writing entertains, but I believe the author is also using New York Station as a vehicle to present a case against neutrality. The plot is well-developed and based on fact. A populist movement of non-intervention divided America in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. There are parallels to current events and the author shares those in a subtle way. This is one of the best attributes of the book. Lawrence Dudley definitely has his point of view. He makes his case, but in a way that does not ruin the story.

The action takes place in the summer of 1940. The Nazi’s are trying to rig the Presidential election. Furthermore, the German’s are actively engaging in espionage. Apparently, the United States did not have an organization to track spies at this point in time. Far right leaning activists are also featured. The picture painted has some similarities to the 2016 election. Outside forces want to influence the election process so integral to America’s core belief system. In New York Station much of the scheme is foiled.

Added to the intrigue is a bit of romance and gambling. Hawkins falls for a New York socialite Daisy Van Schenck. Daisy needs money to shore up family losses. The Van Schenck’s did not weather the Great Depression well. Daisy has rented her mansion to the Nazi Party for fundraising purposes. The event does not end well and triggers quite a bit of violence.

Saratoga Springs

Much of the action takes place in and around Saratoga Springs, New York. The racetrack plays a part in the story. Part of the plot revolves around a sure bet. Sure because of cheating. Since New York Station is historical in nature, there is plausibility in the sure bet. Today a sure bet is far more difficult because of racetrack testing.. This is the first scene showing conflict within the lead character.

Hawkins struggles with the violence that occurs, justifying often that the end goal takes precedence. There is some conflict of loyalty, although he seems much more British than American. The author makes good use of secondary characters to shape the actions of his main character.

I found New York Station quite entertaining. The snapshot of Saratoga Springs was quite different from my small experiences with the area. Perhaps the historical angle is responsible or perhaps my point of view differs from the author. However, I believe Dudley has written a book that is thought provoking. When is it okay to stay on the sidelines? How does one know when to take a stance? Does the end justify the means? This is shown through the actions of the characters and is well done. I highly recommend you read New York Station.