Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Lions of Lucerne, by Brad Thor
My Old Man's Challenge number 11.
Yes, I have been reading, I just haven't been posting. Never fear.
This thriller is the first of a series chronicling the adventures of one Scott Harvath, Secret Service agent and all-around stubborn, slightly egotistical, obsessive pursuer of justice/bad guys, adrenaline junkie, etc. etc. To be honest, I actually read one of the books later in the series before I read this one. I hate doing that. I hate breaking continuity, stepping in the middle of an ongoing story, but I digress.
Scott Harvath works the Presidential detail, but this particular day, he is escorting the president's teenage daughter around the ski slopes at Park City, Utah. After a fine day of skiing, the president and his daughter get a snack before heading to a borrowed chalet at the end of one of the more dangerous runs, the Death Chute (nice foreshadowing eh?). The president takes the Death Chute followed by the majority of the Secret Service agents, and Scott helps the less skilled daughter down an easier route. The weather is bad, getting worse, and the radios the agents are using have been cutting out all day. The first daughter takes a tumble, and while she is getting back up, Harvath observes the president's group disappearing behind some trees....and not long after an avalanche barrels down on top of them.
When the avalanche has settled and the agents at the base of the mountain can get up there to the Death Chute, they find dead agents all over the place, and the president is missing. Harvath manages to get an injured, unconscious teenage girl out of the snow and down to some agents on snowmobiles just in time to pass out from his own injuries. Upon waking, he figures he is the only one that can really get to the bottom of the incident. His guilt over his team getting slaughtered drives him to bust into every area his supervisor tells him not to go.
His search takes him to D.C., to Germany, to Switzerland in his dogged pursuit of rumors, hunches and vague recollections. He doesn't just have the kidnappers to worry about, but also men from back home, doing their best to stop him.
The story was "okay", but the book could have been better with more thorough research. Specifically, Thor seemed to have fallen for a very typical but flawed assumption: Mormons are frightfully odd and gullible. Are there gullible Mormons? Yes. Are there odd Mormons? Yes. But come on. Get your facts straight, mister author boy. First off, Mormon Sunday meetings last three hours, not five hours, unless said Mormon is a Bishop or a Relief Society president or missionaries, or a stake presidency. Rank and file Mormons try to keep it to three hours, thank you very much. Second, most Mormons do NOT believe that the husband has a say whether his wife gets to the Celestial Kingdom, the highest level of heaven. God is a just god, not the head of a "good old boys club". God has the task of final judgment, not spouses. And thirdly, Mormons in Utah are not sheep that do not question what the Church does or does not do on a Sunday. If a Deseret Industries semi-truck was seen on the road on a Sunday, people WOULD notice and somebody WOULD wonder because the D.I. does NOT operate on Sunday (the D.I. truck was part of the kidnapper's plan to get snowmobiles up the mountain undetected).
Yes, the reader does "suspend belief" at times for the sake of the story. But sometimes an ill-researched story is blatantly, and painfully, obvious. Get your facts straight before you write your fiction! Okay. Now that I got that off my chest.
There was plenty of profanity (f-bombs) and violence (shootouts). Parents may want to steer their kids away from this one. No sex, but some sexual wisecracks are made amongst the agents. I don't think it necessary to read this book before the others in the series, as they seem to stand on their own pretty well. I think there are definitely better books to read in the thriller genre, but there are definitely worse out there too.
I'll say this: the author's website is pretty dang cool.