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4.4 out of 5 stars
Black List: A Thriller (The Scot Harvath Series)
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325 of 381 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I'd like to begin by taking a moment to mention those who have taken the time to mess with the average reviews of this book who have yet to crack open a single page--whether it be real or virtual. When is amazon going to abolish these enormous jokes once and for all? The author has NOTHING to do (for the vast majority) with e-book pricing. And yet kindle owner after whining kindle owner cannot STOP themselves from bitching about the price of a book they haven't even read in a space DESIGNED to review the CONTENT of the novel they are complaining about.

With that said, I DO feel that the pricing CAN be unfair--especially since the cost to just COPY an e-book is ridiculously low compared with actual printing. The pricing does seem excessive, but then again, so does gas, and yet we continue to pay it--and as long as people pay for it, the pricing won't be going down anytime soon. Gee, nobody is forcing these whining babies to BUY anything. So quit yer bitchin' okay?

On with an ACTUAL review...of a book I actually READ... Brad has been slowly, but definitely improving his writing since releasing his first novel some years back featuring Scot Harvath (Lions of Lucerne). Black List is at once amazingly compelling, and yet shockingly frightening at the same time. It really shouldn't surprise me that the Government has the ability to essentially spy on me at any given moment for however long they want--and yet as I read this absolutely riveting story, it scared the living H#!! outta me. This kind of power in the wrong hands (ie the US Government) can be used to justify incredibly shocking things. I have a hard time imagining my OWN Government may be involved in this manner, and yet I see how the country is going and how those in so-called power have abused it, and can hardly imagine how they haven't somehow used that power to do horrific and illegal things.

Scot Harvath is one bad mutha...he occupies the same elite circles as some of my all-time favorite fictional characters like James Bond, Kirk McGarvey, Jack Ryan, Dirk Pitt and soforth. The thing I really like about Scot is how human he seems to be even in the midst of terrible, life-altering situations. Sure, there is a certain amount of impossibility you have to factor into these storylines in order to achieve the action that todays readers require, but unlike a lot of the hero's that you read about, Scot just remains a cool dude. A man's man that you'd like to have as a friend, one you could call upon when needed--or at least one that you would LIKE to be able to call upon.

The story literally moves with the speed of an ICBM and rarely--if ever--lets up. Scots life is in grave peril from almost the very first page, and the list he finds himself on is nothing short of impossible to get away FROM--at least not without being dead, first. And yet Scot has no other choice but to find those responsible for having him placed ON the Black List and exposing them and as usual, make them PAY. Along the way we have twists, turns and the usual air of authenticity that comes from one who has obviously done his homework. There is GOOD reason why Brad Thor is spoken of as the 21st Century's Robert Ludlum--he really IS that good (and many would say better). If you want to read a cutting edge-of-your-seat techno-thriller, FORGET the terrible Bourne Identity sequels (starting with the Bourne Legacy), read some books by an author who really KNOWS how to raise your blood pressure with the careful use of the English language. A talent that is sorely lacking in the thriller genre these days...and yet one that Mr. Thor has in abundance.

This is Thor's BEST book to date, and that is saying a lot considering what he's written before. Black List is not only good, its stunningly great, and deserves much exposure if for no other reason than to educate American citizens of what our own Government is capable of. Knowledge is power, and to have too much is frightening, indeed. Kudo's Brad for yet ANOTHER winner. Now get on with your writing and give us another hum-dinger, okay?
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106 of 122 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
"All of the technology contained in this novel is based upon systems currently being deployed, or in the final stages of development, by the United States government and its partners."

... and thus begins `Black List' by Brad Thor. I have never read a book that started like the opening sentence and have it turn out bad. This book continues that streak... in spades. To say this story opens with a shocker would be an unforgiveable understatement, so I'll just say that you will NOT be prepared for what awaits. While I'm a huge fan of all of Brad's work, I haven't gotten that "special feeling" about one of his books since `The Last Patriot'. Now to be clear for the slow ones (IE: Kindle owners complaining about price), I have loved each and every one of Brad's books, but every author has one (or two) books in their repertoire that shines just a little bit brighter than the rest. Stephen King has `The Stand', Eric Jerome Dickey has `The Other Woman', Steve Alten has `Grim Reaper', Danielle Steele has... (No. Not a chance), and Brad has `Black List'.

This go round, Harvath goes up against a power greater than anything he's faced yet. How great? Well... they have put Harvath on a list of people to be killed. Usually Harvath is the executer of list such as these but this time, he's the mouse. Per se'. The engineers of this list are a group called the ATS. This group has so MUCH power, so MUCH influence that it's rumored that God calls them before he allows it to rain on D.C. Unfortunately, people who have access to this much power usually don't have access to morals. Think of every terrorist attack that you know of, including 9-11, and multiply it by ten, and you might get close to the type of damage the ATS is planning for America. The only thing that makes it worse is that these are AMERICAN'S that have hatched this plan.

OK actually there is one more thing: (read the first sentence of this review).

We'd like to think that something like this is only achievable in sci-fi novels. It's not. We're on the Autobahn toward an attack like this as we speak. The overall premise to this book is the gathering and use of our digital data. Text messages, internet searches, GPS, eMails, downloads, everything is being watched. Everything is being recorded. Everything is being cataloged. I know you're saying that "yeah I've heard all this before". No. You haven't. Not like this. This book goes way beyond just being illegally tracked by our government. This book deals with what would/could happen if the power mongers who paid their way into office decided to make something happen.

Big Brother is watching, we all know that. What we don't know, or don't care to know, is to what extent? And what happens if Big Brother is a sadistic, power hungry sibling with an unlimited expense account? `Black List' tells us what the history is, what the current state is, and what the future will be like if we (the knowing public) continue to be more concerned about the next `Words With Friends' update than the next "internet security" bill being passed.

This book is blazing fast, even for Thor. And that's good because Harvath is being chased something fierce. When everything we do is monitored is it almost impossible to stay off the grid. Even more impossible... tracking down the guys controlling the grid who are also teamed up with the guys that are the architectures of the grid. This is bone fide Brad Thor book with all the globe hopping, covert operations, shady useless politicians, double taps to the head, up close kills, adrenaline on adrenaline, and pulse pounding storytelling that, if it cause my heart to race as I read, it must cause Brad a near heart attack when writing it.

If the technology written about in this book is true, and I'm 100% sure that it is; so too must be the men and women tasked to use it. And to protect us from it. Thank God for them and their love of America. The proof is in their blood, their sweat, their tears, and their lost lives.
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76 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have been reading every book Brad Thor has publish, if you want a roller coaster ride that will not stop and make you think at every hair pin turn then read this book and like me I read "The Athena Project" and got hooked and started reading all the books from the beginning just to get ready for Full Black and Black LIST, This is a must read!!!!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A review by Anthony T. Riggio of Brad Thor's "Black List".

I had seen this book on the book shelves in books stores and chose to pass on reading it. It sounded like so many of the genre of books that deal with some former CIA, Delta Team member or Seal Team #(whatever). The hero is no longer in the service of their country but are hired on by one of the multitude of private contractors that seem to have become ubiquitous in the running of the government. It leads me to believe our "big and getting bigger" government seeks insulation for itself or setting up some future scape goat. Black List has all of these elements, including incredible physical feats that defy or perhaps provide some escapism for the great number of "couch potatoes" wannabe heroes who relish in these types of books.

This being said, Black List is well written and reasoned out and the author has some bona-fides that qualify him, unlike the growing number of vicarious writers who create these kinds of stories that seem to simply titillate readers who are looking for meaning in their dull lives.

What astounded me was how prescient the author was in writing this book given the disclosures of the NSA analyst Edward Snowden who "blew the whistle" on his perceptions of government abuse. Snowden was not a highly educated person but was making mega bucks, i.e., high six figure income.
I would have thought this impossible but as one of the characters in the book, namely Kurt Schroeder, is not only a drop out, but one who has previously committed criminal acts. The author's premise is that these types are so talented in their computer skills that the government will look the other way. I believe the motives might have included the value of compromised morality. Hard to believe but then fiction is not stranger than reality when we see the Edward Snowden debacle.

The book also points out the increasing use of third party contractors by our government believing them to be more cost effective. In the parallel current reality issue, the contractor is a huge contractor (Boze Allen) involved in so much of what our government does, including the war efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

While I am critical of the premise of Black List, the books revelations support this theory, which I found scary, beyond anything the average American frame of reference could relate to.

I gave this book four stars because it does capture the readers attention and imagination. I received this book as a gift from a friend who shares similar concerns of a government that seems out of control and whose hypothesis is now reinforced by true life.

I would recommend the reading of this book because the theme is so current and worrisome for most Americans who fear that we are now living in George Orwell's world. This could be a wake-up for many of us.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Interesting concept. I found it slow to develop and somewhat confusing. It took
some time for me to identify the various characters and their relationships.
Too much detail. I probably won't read more of this authors work. Kind of
like Tom Clancy's books which I quit reading years ago.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Let me preface this review with the fact that up until this book, I was a huge Brad Thor fan but he has lost his mojo of late and this book is the epitome of that problem. Plot. What plot? The book opens with violence, pours on more violence which is exactly like the first scene (four guys against Horvath, emerges victorious and unscathed each time) and the only movement in the book is a change of location.

We know that a shadow group is trying to wipe out another shadow group but through fully 70% of the book, the reader has no idea why. It's just vignette after vignette of characters interacting in exactly the same way as the previous scene.

Really, there was no purpose to this book that I could determine. It was an exceedingly disappointing read and that didn't start to come together until the last 25% of the book. It could have been written as a 100-150 page novella and been a much better read at a much lower price.

There are so many excellent independent authors out there in the e world that I will no longer buy "bestsellers" that are supposed to be good just because of who wrote them. Clancy jumped the shark, Patterson did ages ago and now Thor may well be on his way to membership in the same club. Sad really.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The book description says that this is "An intense, page-turning novel that is action-packed and frighteningly real". I wonder if I read the same book which was a slow-moving, ponderous, boring tale about an unbelievable conspiracy. I enjoyed previous books by this author but with this one he really seems to have gone off the boil in an attempt to write something different.

I am not a conspiracy theorist and in this world of fast social interaction it is difficult to envisage mega computer-driven conspiracies that can take over control of government and the people.

Scott Harvarth is still the focal action hero but he is not the hero I remember. There is one part of the book where Thor takes about 2 pages to reflect on Scott's revulsion for using a knife instead of a gun.

Thor revisits Nicholas, a dwarf, guarded by 2 giant Caucasian Ovcharka dogs. Nicholas (nicknamed The Troll) was a baddie who traded information to the highest bidder, including notorious international criminals. This time Nicholas has mellowed to become a trusted friend helping to unravel the computer driven conspiracy.

Sometimes I thought that I was reading a different book to the one praised by so many reviewers. But as the book dragged on (it should have been half the length) and the conspiracy became more nonsensical, and the action so slow I had to drive myself to finish the book. The flying finale in the epilogue was almost the last straw.

I have discovered a number of excellent independent authors who can deliver intelligent, fast-paced page-turning thrillers that match and eclipse many of the best-selling published authors, especially those whose work seems to be running out of steam.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Great technical info on the world of computer surveillance. Scary and all too likely. Brrrrr.
But a draggy read. Way to much agonizing for my taste.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A bit far fetched. Not up to other Brad Thor Novels. I was disappointed with the premise and also the pace of the book.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I got started reading the Brad Thor's Scott Harvath series of books after running through Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series. The one thing that has bothered me about Thor's writing since the beginning is the constant use of superlatives - the Troll is one of the greatest hackers known, the most powerful secret organization, the most beautiful women for the Athena project, etc. etc. etc. After a while, the constant stream of superlatives gets to be a bit annoying and trite. But on to this book...

It was an interesting enough read to keep me involved in the book and finishing it within a week of intermittent reading. If I had a free minute, I would usually pick up my Kindle and read a couple of chapters. So, from that perspective, it was an entertaining book, just not a great book. Character development in all of these assassin novels (Mitch Rapp, Gabriel Allon, Scott Harvath) seems to stagnate once it gets established as a series, and this is no exception. In this novel, the world seems to shrink as members of the Carlton Group are eliminated by a shadowy group. Funny how a group so secretive and powerful doesn't get noticed even though they're involved in literally everything and have the ability to monitor anything. The action is pretty consistent throughout and, as mentioned before, it's entertaining pulp fiction, but hardly what I'd call literature.

If you like the series, you probably won't hate the eBook and it will probably entertain you.
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