The Lions of Lucerne (2002) is the first installment in Brad Thor’s long-running series of novels featuring Scot Harvath.
An ex-Navy SEAL, Harvath has become a member of President Jack Rutledge’s Secret Service protection detail. The book’s plot begins in earnest when a group of Middle Eastern terrorists kidnap him and kill all the members of his protection detail, except Harvath, who vows to get the president back and avenge his colleagues’ killers.
But Harvath begins to doubt that the kidnappers were actually Middle Eastern. Various clues point him in the direction of European mercenaries. When he shares his findings with federal law enforcement officials, bad things start happening to him.
Could the president’s kidnapping actually be a domestic terrorist plot? Or an inside job? Harvath needs to find out before the kidnappers kill the president … or himself.
Brad Thor’s novels are often compared to Tom Clancy’s, and with good reason. They involve ex-military personnel solving difficult problems at the intersection where politics, economics, world affairs, the military, and espionage crash into one another. Moreover, both novelists often switch perspective between what’s happening among the good guys and what’s happening among the bad guys. The novels often involve conspiracies at high levels, as well as more than a bit of violence.
I am a recent Brad Thor reader. The first novel I read was his most recent, Rising Tiger, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So much so that I decided to start at the series’ beginning and work my way forward. I enjoyed The Lions of Lucerne, though compared to Rising Tiger, I found its plot clunkier than the most recent installment.
Given that the book takes places over a roughly two-week time frame, Harvath’s physical exploits strained credulity because of injuries he sustained at the beginning of the story. Moreover, there are occasions when Thor seems to engage in some Deus ex machina plotwork, such as Harvath’s fake passports. They’re necessary for the story to move forward, but they still seem forced.
Even so, I kept reading, knowing that this was Thor’s first novel. As he himself admitted to John Miller in the Bookmonger Podcast, he has improved his writing craft over the last two decades.
And so, clunkiness and all, I enjoyed The Lions of Lucerne and plan to continue reading the series. Next up, 2003’s Path of the Assassin!
Brad Thor, The Lions of Lucerne (New York: Emily Bestler Books / Atria, 2002).
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