The Lions of Lucerne (Scot Harvath Series #1)

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"On the snow-covered slopes of Utah, the unthinkable has just become a nightmarish reality: thirty Secret Service agents have been viciously executed and the vacationing president of the United States is kidnapped by one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in the Middle East - the dreaded Fatah Revolutionary Council." "But one man, surviving agent and ex-Navy SEAL Scot Harvath, doesn't believe the Fatah is responsible for the attack. Driven by his professional code of duty and honor - and a solemn vow to avenge his fallen comrades - ...
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Overview

"On the snow-covered slopes of Utah, the unthinkable has just become a nightmarish reality: thirty Secret Service agents have been viciously executed and the vacationing president of the United States is kidnapped by one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in the Middle East - the dreaded Fatah Revolutionary Council." "But one man, surviving agent and ex-Navy SEAL Scot Harvath, doesn't believe the Fatah is responsible for the attack. Driven by his professional code of duty and honor - and a solemn vow to avenge his fallen comrades - Harvath creates his own rules to get some answers. But his search for the truth raises the blood pressure of his superiors...and casts his own life in mortal jeopardy. The deadly machinations have been set in motion by a shadowy coalition, comprising some of the highest-ranking officials in government and business - men who operate above the law, men who realize the threat Harvath poses to their hidden agenda...men who will do anything to stop him." Now framed for murder and on the run, Harvath goes for broke and takes his own brand of justice to the unlikeliest place of all - the towering mountains of Switzerland. It is there that he finds an improbable ally in the beautiful Claudia Mueller of the Swiss Federal Attorney's Office. Together they must brave the subzero temperatures and sheer heights of treacherous Mount Pilatus - and enter the den of the most notorious team of professional killers the world has ever known.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When terrorists massacre dozens of Secret Service agents and kidnap the president during a ski trip, former Navy SEAL Scot Harvath -- the only agent to survive the attack -- sets out on a one-man rescue mission in this unrelenting thriller from first-time novelist Brad Thor. Find out how Thor's penchant for verbal expression got him into trouble, out of trouble, and on the road to authordom in our exclusive author essay.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
He's fearless. He's tireless. If you get him angry, as does the chief of staff of the vice-president of the United States, he'll pop you with an uppercut. He's Secret Service Agent Scot Harvath, the hero of Thor's rough-and-ready debut. As the action opens on the ski slopes outside Park City, Utah, the 20-something Harvath has screwed up. Under his watch, terrorists not only kill 30 agents but kidnap the president midway down his final run of the day. When the Secret Service, the FBI, the CIA and a suspiciously inept and indecisive vice-president wring their hands, the disgraced Harvath picks up the few scant clues left behind and launches a one-man search-and-rescue mission. The terrorists publicly demand $500 million and privately insist that an anti-fossil fuel proposal in Congress be killed. When those demands aren't immediately met, one of the president's fingers arrives at the White House. By this time, Harvath is on his way to Switzerland, where he's gotten word of a mysterious cell of mercenaries named the Lions of Lucerne. With unflinching determination and an uncanny ability to escape danger and assassination, the young buck pieces together the plot and girds himself for a showdown at the terrorists' secret hideaway inside the frozen exterior of Mt. Pilatus. Thor, host of the PBS television series Traveling Lite, shows a gift for dramatic storytelling. The momentum of the plot alone may satisfy some readers. Yet it's hard to get past the novel's many graceless shortcomings clichd language (time passes "at a snail's pace," old habits "die hard"), cartoonish scenes and a protagonist whose superhero character desperately needs fleshing out. Agent, Heide Lange of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.) Forecast: Pocket is launching this pumped-up debut with billboard advertising in Times Square and an eight-city author tour. Swiss mercenaries may seem tame villains in times like these, but this is adequate escapist fare for readers seeking a quick action fix. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
People

A hot read for a winter night.

Library Journal

High-voltage entertainment reminiscent of Robert Ludlum and David Morrell.

Library Journal
Secret Service agent and former Navy SEAL Scot Harvath heads the advance team protecting the President and his daughter on a ski trip in Utah. When the President is kidnapped following a terrorist-rigged avalanche, Scot is the only agent to survive. Determined to find out what happened, he returns to Washington, DC, where he learns that two senators may have helped facilitate the plot. After revealing what he knows to the head of the Secret Service, he is betrayed and set up for murder. Clues lead him next to Switzerland, where he hooks up with Claudia Mueller of the Federal Attorney's Office in Bern. Together, in an attempt to save the President, they try to avoid hired killers while tracking down the men behind the kidnapping. An assured debut for Thor, creator and host of the public television series Traveling Lite, this international thriller will delight readers with its nonstop action, relentless suspense, strong protagonist, and wintry settings in Utah, DC, and Switzerland. Well-researched, high-voltage entertainment reminiscent of Robert Ludlum and David Morrell; highly recommended for all public libraries. Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut thriller from the host of PBS's Traveling Lite proves its own title. The sole survivor of a ski-slope nabbing of the US president, Secret Service Agent Scot Harvath is America's latest cookie-cutter superspy to be vaulted into international intrigue by terrorism. All evidence points to the Mideast's largest terrorist organization, but Harvath's not fooled-he knows that Middle East groups "are not tacticians. . . . Essentially, they're cowards. They don't do in-your-face operations." "Call it an ingrained bigotry," but Harvath just knows that a Mideast terrorist group could not pull off a scam of this magnitude. Turns out he's right-it was the Swiss. Aided by a pair of conniving senators and a squirrelly vice president, a crack Swiss commando unit has snatched President Potus and stuffed him away inside a mountain. When Harvath's investigation starts to get warm, he's framed-and won't be able to clear his name unless he can free the president. Oh, yes, there's also a Swiss agent named Claudia who's hot and knows how to handle a 9mm SIG-Sauer 229 semiautomatic. Thor's tangled writing often interferes with the plot-drenching: "The uncomfortable hog tie position in which he was restrained threatened to drive him insane"; "He lay in a trance like state in the warm void half-way between sleeping and waking until his mind began to assemble different explanations for what he was hearing and he felt himself being forcibly dragged upward toward the surface world of the wakeful." Screenplay prose. Author tour
From the Publisher
"Brad Thor is as current as tomorrow's headlines."

— Dan Brown, #1 bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743436748
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 10/29/2002
  • Series: Scot Harvath Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Brad Thor

Brad Thor is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Order, Black List, Full Black (one of Suspense Magazine's best political thrillers of 2011), The Athena Project, Foreign Influence (one of Suspense Magazine’s best political thrillers of 2010), The Apostle, The Last Patriot (nominated best thriller of the year by the International Thriller Writers Association), The First Commandment, Takedown, Blowback (recognized as one of the “Top 100 Killer Thrillers of All Time” by NPR), State of the Union, Path of the Assassin, and The Lions of Lucerne. Visit his website at BradThor.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The exterior ice chime sounded, warning of potential ice on the roadway, and Gerhard Miner gripped the leather steering wheel of his black Audi A6 a little tighter. His Gucci-clad foot pressed down harder on the accelerator. The sun was setting over Lake Lucerne, and a chill wind, blowing since lunch, began to pick up. Ah, what a lunch that was today, Miner thought to himself as the sleek black sedan hugged the shores of the choppy Swiss lake. It was absolutely exquisite.

Claudia Mueller, an investigator from the Federal Attorney's Office, had been pressing Miner for a face-to-face meeting to discuss a cache of armaments missing from a military base outside of Basel. Crates of special night-vision goggles, flash bang grenades, Swiss SWAT assault rifles, antitank missiles, plastique, and a couple of next-generation nonlethal weapons known as glare guns had all mysteriously disappeared.

Though Claudia had insisted her questions were just routine, Miner had been putting her off for over two months. He claimed his caseload didn't provide a single extra moment to meet with her. Surely the security of Switzerland, which Miner was charged with, overrode the necessity of asking him a few "routine" questions.

He half expected her to go away, but she didn't. Claudia wanted badly to talk with Miner and for good reason.

Five years ago, he had commanded a special division of Swiss intelligence that tested the security of military bases and weapons installations throughout the tiny country. Miner had been so successful at breaching security at the bases that his unit was shut down for fear of further embarrassment to the military establishment, and he was transferred to a different department of Swiss intelligence.

Not only had Miner commanded the special division, he had also created it. The idea for the division — known as Der Nebel or, most appropriately, The Fog, in English — stemmed from training Miner had received while on U.S.-Swiss cross-training exercises in Little Creek, Virginia. Little Creek was where the U.S. Navy SEAL teams involved in Atlantic, Latin American, and European operations were assigned. It was also home to the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, not to be confused with "Dev Group," the Navy's elite counterterrorist unit formerly known as SEAL Team Six, which was based in Dam Neck, Virginia. The Special Warfare Development Group was a SEAL think tank where new weapons, equipment, communications systems, and tactics were developed.

The investigative affairs agent's long list of boring questions had been the last thing Miner was interested in sitting through, but curiosity eventually got the better of him and he ordered a copy of Claudia Mueller's personnel file. In his position as one of the Swiss government's highest-ranking intelligence officers, he did not find the file hard to get, nor did his request seem at all out of the ordinary.

Miner flipped through Mueller's file with only minimal interest. As he reached the back, he slowed. The backs of files were always the most interesting part. Included were her service photo, her most recent passport photo, and best of all, a magazine photo from a climbing competition in which she had taken first prize. In sharp contrast to the serious service and passport photos, this picture showed a proud and energetic woman. Here, her ruddy face was flushed with adrenaline and the excitement of competition. She was gorgeous. There was no need to put Claudia Mueller off any longer. At that moment, Miner not only knew he had to meet her, but he had to have her.

An hour and fifteen minutes away in Bern at the Federal Attorney's Office, known as the Bundesanwaltschaft, Claudia Mueller was studying the file of Gerhard Miner for the thousandth time. Out of all the people she had spoken with during the course of her investigation, Miner had been the toughest to nail down. Sure, Miner had his reasons for being unavailable, and they all checked out when Claudia leaned on her boss to speak with his contacts at the Ministry of Defense, but something bothered her. Call it her Swiss fetish for organization. Something about Miner just didn't jibe.

Miner was fifty-three years old and never married. He was a handsome man, tall, about six foot two, and extremely fit. His gray hair was perfect, as were his expensive custom-made Italian suits. In almost any woman's opinion, Gerhard Miner would be quite a juicy catch. She was studying the photos of him yet again, glued to his deep brown eyes, when the phone rang.

"Hello?" Claudia answered, still staring at the file in front of her.

"Fräulein Mueller, this is Gerhard Miner of the SND." Strategischer Nachrichtendienst, in Swiss German, translated to the deceptively benign sounding "Strategic Information Service." The highly secretive Nachrichtendienst was a division of the Ministry of Defense and responsible for counterespionage for Switzerland. Not much beyond that was known about it, not even by the most enlightened and connected of Swiss citizens.

Instantly, Claudia's attention shifted from the pictures in front of her to the voice on the other end of the phone. "Well, Herr Miner, to what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?" Claudia asked pleasantly, masking her eagerness. After leaving messages and being dodged by Miner for the last two months, she was excited to finally have the man himself on the phone.

Miner leaned back in his chair and wondered what Claudia might be wearing. He pictured her in a highly provocative outfit, completely unlike what a woman of her position actually wore to the office. His mind continued to wander as he answered smoothly, as if on automatic pilot, "I should say the pleasure is all mine. I can't remember the last time a woman pursued me as aggressively as you have."

"I hardly believe my repeated requests for information in a formal investigation to be in the same category as you are imagining, Herr Miner."

"Of course not. I apologize. I'll tell you what, I have time available tomorrow to meet with you if you still want, but after that I will be quite busy with an ongoing assignment."

"Done," replied Claudia. "I'll meet you at your office say — "

"Oh, I'm quite sorry once again."

"Why?"

"I won't be in my office tomorrow. I'm taking a little time off and will be at my home in Lucerne."

It wasn't unusual for government officials to keep a small apartment in the capital and then commute home on the weekends. The Swiss were extremely loyal to their cantons and ancestral homes. Claudia herself spent many weekends with her family back in Grindelwald in the house that would one day pass to her when her parents were gone.

She paused to figure out how long it would take her to get from Bern to Lucerne and whether she should go by car or by train.

"I'll tell you what," began Miner.

Again with "I'll tell you what," Claudia thought. After being dodged for two months, Claudia was ready to jump down Miner's throat, but she knew she had to be careful. She had recently applied for a new position within her organization, and stepping on the toes of one of the Ministry of Defense's most respected officers wouldn't help her move any quicker up the ladder.

Life at the Bundesanwaltschaft had grown to be extremely tedious for Claudia. She had taken the job with the Federal Attorney's Office right out of law school. She was fluent in all four official languages of Switzerland: German, Italian, French, and even the rarely spoken Romansch. She was also fluent in English. Her enviable ability with languages, tenacious manner, and keen eye for detail made Claudia a shoo-in for the Bundespolizei, the investigative affairs division of the Bundesanwaltschaft. As much as Claudia had enjoyed her job in civil intelligence at the outset, she longed for the promotion that would take her out of the mundane business of being a glorified detective and put her on cases that were much more exciting and that she could actually prosecute.

But no matter how badly Claudia wanted to switch to another department, she would not for a moment compromise an ongoing investigation. Worse than stepping on a few Ministry of Defense toes would be not solving this case. And if she couldn't solve this one, she was sure she would end up staying exactly where she was, or worse, she would get demoted, or possibly even fired.

Claudia's boss, Arianne Küess, had been handpicked to be head prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal at the United Nations Court. This meant that the missing weapons case was being led by the very disagreeable Deputy Federal Attorney, Urs Schnell. This was Schnell's first case and he wanted it wrapped up with a ribbon ASAP. He had placed a very high priority on this, and the weight rode chafingly on Claudia's shoulders. The problem was that she had not made any progress and was quickly running out of leads.

"Let's meet for lunch here. Is that convenient for you?" Without even waiting for a reply, Miner continued, "We'll meet at the restaurant in the Hotel des Balances in the Old Town. Say, twelve-thirty?"

No, it wouldn't be convenient for her to travel to Lucerne, but Claudia needed to speak with Miner, so she agreed and hung up the phone. That evening, she agonized over what to wear. She wanted to appear professional, but knowing Miner's penchant for women, she couldn't help but want to play her good looks for all they were worth. She was scraping the bottom of the ethical barrel and she knew it, but she was desperate. She chose an attractive, tight-fitting navy blue skirt that rode just above the knee and a form-fitting navy blue blazer with a funky silver blouse. She left one button undone and then undid the second upon entering the lobby of the hotel at twelve-twenty-five the following day.

Miner had been considerate enough to select one of the restaurant's quieter tables. The booth was framed at one end by a window facing onto the Reuss River. Beyond a clutch of empty iron patio tables, a group of Lucerne's swans paddled slowly past the city's historic, covered Kapellbrücke bridge. Miner appeared to be watching them as they up-ended their snow white tails, plumbing the depths of the quickly flowing current in search of food. In reality, he was using the reflection of the window to observe Investigative Affairs Agent Mueller's entrance, as well as the rest of the lunch patrons who had entered the restaurant in the last twenty minutes. Miner watched Claudia walk almost the length of the dining room, then feigned surprise when she finally reached the table.

"Herr Miner, good afternoon. Sorry to startle you." Claudia leaned over to shake his hand, certain that he had seen her entrance.

The game was on.


Two hours later, dissatisfied and angry, she left the Hotel des Balances. She needed to walk a little and clear her head. Claudia made her way up the hotel's short cobblestone driveway toward the Weinmarkt, in Lucerne's Old Town.

The Old Town, on Lucerne's right bank, was a pedestrianized area of aging cobblestone streets and buildings from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Many of the facades were decorated with frescoes depicting Swiss life. The ground floors of the buildings housed boutiques, restaurants, and small shops. One couldn't walk two meters in this part of town without seeing displays of watches or cuckoo clocks. There was no question that it was geared heavily toward tourists, but its beauty always had a soothing effect on Claudia.

She wandered aimlessly past the shops along the Kapellgasse trying to make some sense of her meeting with Miner. He had been cordial, but cordial to the point of condescension. It hadn't taken Claudia long to realize that Miner wasn't going to reveal anything, at least not willingly. He was extremely uncooperative, choosing to shroud himself in the cloak of national security whenever Claudia put a direct question to him.

"Where were you on the night the weapons were stolen?"

"On assignment."

"On assignment where and for what?"

"I cannot say."

"Can't say where, or can't say for what?"

"Neither."

"And why can't you say?"

"It is a matter of national security."

"And a large amount of sensitive weaponry missing from a Swiss defense depot isn't a matter of national security?"

"All I can say is, it is not my matter. It's yours."

"Herr Miner, is it that you can't tell me your whereabouts on the night in question, or is it that you just won't?"

"It is both," Miner replied. "I won't tell you because I can't."

"Are you aware, Herr Miner, that I can get a court order to compel you to answer my questions?"

"Yes."

"So, why don't you make it easier on both of us: answer my questions and I will go back to Bern to pursue my investigation from there."

"Fräulein Mueller, I am not in the business of making your job easy. I serve the Federal Republic of Switzerland. I'm not at liberty to answer the questions you're asking. Should you wish to attempt to compel me to answer, I assure you your efforts will be met with much resistance. I do a job for the people of Switzerland that is, shall we say, delicate. I have done this job for more years than you have even been alive. My position does not require me to answer your questions. I have told you I would be of no value to your investigation, yet you pursued me nonetheless."

Claudia was determined to get something out of him and, so, changed course. "Perhaps, then, as you are an expert on the security of Swiss military installations, maybe you could suggest to me how such a theft would be possible and where such weaponry might be secreted or sold, if that was the intent."

"Fräulein Mueller, I have learned that there are many ways to enter one of our bases undetected. A person or persons could have done so with or without assistance from someone inside. Were there any signs of a forced entry?"

"Not according to our investigation."

"Were the security measures functioning properly at the time the theft was assumed to have taken place?"

"Yes, they were."

"You of course questioned the entire base staff to see if anyone saw or heard anything unusual during the time in question?"

"Naturally."

"And?"

"And, no, nothing unusual was seen or heard."

"Fine, then, that brings us to your next question. As far as where such merchandise could be hidden, the answer is, anywhere. And, as far as where such merchandise could be sold, my answer again is, anywhere. You simply do not have enough evidence to even begin to formulate a hypothesis as to what happened. You are chasing ghosts, and I frankly do not see much hope for a successful outcome to your investigation. But, your day is not a complete loss. Since you have come all the way from Bern, you can at least enjoy your lunch and perhaps we can take a stroll together afterward."

Claudia spent the rest of their lunch probing for answers while Miner deftly parried each question. Miner also had the indecency to try to seduce her. He found Claudia attractive, and, in all fairness, she had attempted to use her wiles to goad a little more information out of him. Instead of coughing up some information, though, he had come on to her even more strongly. Claudia felt she should have known better. Though everything about him indicated he had a passion for women, passion did not necessarily equal weakness, and gambling that it might had been Claudia's mistake.

The end of their lunch was no less frustrating than its beginning. Without even consulting her, Miner ordered dessert for the two of them. This was a liberty that sent Claudia's already boiling blood over onto the stove. Number one, he ordered liquor, which Claudia didn't touch while working, and number two, he went on to lecture Claudia on her poor taste for turning down a fabulous dessert wine that the hotel Food & Beverage manager kept specially in the cellar for him. No doubt, Claudia thought to herself, Miner had something good on the F&B manager to rate such treatment. She made a mental note to check the manager out when she got back to Bern.

It wasn't enough that he let her know the wine was a special delicacy the hotel reserved solely for him. No, Miner had to go on and make sure that uneducated little Claudia knew exactly what she was missing. In a tone that was entirely haughty, and which entirely suited Gerhard Miner, he launched into what sounded like a rote recitation of a wine club's tasting notes.

Vin de Constance was a dessert wine from the Constantia estate in South Africa. It was a favorite of Napoléon Bonaparte, who had thirty bottles a month shipped to Elba to ease the misery of his banishment. The king of Prussia as well as Louis XVI loved Vin de Constance. Dickens celebrated it in Edwin Drood, and Baudelaire said, "only the lips of a lover surpassed it in heavenly sweetness." Only twelve thousand bottles were produced annually, with almost all of them accounted for before they hit the market. An American colleague who had introduced Miner to the stuff helped arrange for a case to be sent to Switzerland. No small feat, as Vin de Constance was one of the most coveted wines in the world.

Throughout this ridiculous speech, Claudia developed a pretty good plan for where Miner could put his wine if the hotel's cellar ever got overcrowded. Though she had already politely declined Miner's offer, he poured the expensive liquid into her glass anyway. A faint sneer developed at the corner of Miner's mouth when Claudia grabbed the neck of the bottle and repeated, "I said, no thank you." The sneer, which Miner quickly masked with a false smile, proved to Claudia that the man was not completely impenetrable. She counted this as one small victory in the series of sharp defeats that had been their lunch.

Claudia had so strongly insisted on questioning Miner because he was her last possible lead. She had exhausted everything else. Claudia had gone back and questioned the military base staff again and again. She had monitored their bank accounts and purchasing patterns, hoping that if there was someone involved on the inside, he or she would slip up and make a large deposit or a large purchase that couldn't be explained away. To date, nothing had come to light. Nothing had turned up in Switzerland, and nothing had turned up on the black markets abroad.

The Vin de Constance lecture notwithstanding, Claudia felt as if she didn't know any more today than she had yesterday and that her whole trip to Lucerne had been a waste of time. As far as the missing weapons were concerned, Miner did have better means than anyone else in all of Switzerland to steal them. Claudia was dead-on. But just because Miner had once been involved in government-sanctioned exercises testing the security of Swiss military establishments didn't mean that he had anything to do with her theft.

Miner was also right about something. Any attempt to try to get a judge to compel him to answer her questions would be met with resistance from the highest ranks of the Swiss government. Lacking any evidence whatsoever against Miner, there was no way anyone would force him to cooperate.

With Miner refusing to cooperate, Claudia didn't even have straws to grasp at. All she had was air. Her investigation had been marked by failure after failure. Though her gut told her one thing, her mind told her it was a million-to-one shot that she could have turned Miner into a bona fide suspect. Now Claudia Mueller's investigation and her career were at a complete standstill.


As Gerhard Miner pulled into the long-term parking lot at Zurich International Airport, he was no longer thinking about Claudia; his mind was back on his mission. The sudden schedule change had bothered him, but such was the nature of his business. Heads of state often shortened trips or changed plans altogether at the last minute. As this trip was set to coincide with the birthday of the American president's fifteen-year-old daughter, Miner had been certain that, barring any international incident, the president would spend as much time as he could on his ski trip. The fact that the president was now planning to cut it short by a couple of days was inconvenient, but it didn't make the mission impossible.

Miner entered the empty first-class line and presented his ticket and passport. He went out of his way to be extra flirtatious with the female desk staff, who wondered why such a handsome man did not have an attractive woman traveling with him to Athens.

While waiting in the Swissair lounge for his flight to board, he changed tack and acted enraged when a young waitress spilled a glass of cabernet all over his trousers. The poor young girl thought it was her fault, when, in fact, Miner had leaned his shoulder forward and nudged her tray as she was placing a cocktail napkin on the table. His explosion earned him an effusive apology that lasted from the first-class lounge all the way to the gate from a Swissair airport services manager. Once Miner had been seated on the plane, the manager again apologized and asked the chief first-class flight attendant to take especially good care of this long-suffering passenger. Miner had achieved exactly what he wanted. At least five people would be able to vouch that he had boarded the Swissair flight to Greece.

He spent the next week and a half in the popular ports of Paros and Mykonos, spending too much money entertaining new friends and repairing repeated "mechanical problems" on his rented sailboat. He overtipped waiters, barmen, and harbormasters. Not only would Miner be remembered, but many would be anxiously awaiting the return of the man and his easy-flowing money next season.

Secure that his alibi was well established, Miner sailed to the uninhabited island of Despotiko, about three hours southwest of Mykonos. Waiting there for Miner, just as planned, was his cousin from the Swiss town of Hochdorf, a carpenter who bore an incredible likeness to him.

Happy to have a free vacation and knowing the sensitivity of his cousin's occupation, the carpenter from Hochdorf never asked any questions. The plan was for him to continue sailing south to Santorini and then Crete, where he would leave the rented yacht, citing a string of mechanical problems as the reason. The carpenter would then make his way to the western port of Patras, where a first-class cabin was booked on a Minoan Line cruise ship to Venice.

His cousin would be traveling on Miner's passport and Visa credit card. Knowing that cabin stewards present first-class passengers' passports for them to customs officials as a courtesy, Miner was not worried about his cousin or his passport receiving any undue scrutiny. The carpenter was to spend a week in northern Italy before proceeding via train to France.

Miner had booked his cousin on an overnight train in a first-class compartment. As the train would be crossing the French border while passengers were sleeping, the steward would gather passports as passengers boarded, present them to border officials sometime during the night, and then return them with breakfast in the morning.

After a week in France, the carpenter would take a final overnight train back to Switzerland, where the customary passport collection by the steward would once again be conducted. When the steward delivered the passport with breakfast the next morning, the carpenter was to place it in a thick, manila envelope with the canceled train tickets, credit card receipts, and other odds and ends he had been told to accumulate during his wonderful vacation. The envelope was addressed to a post office box in Lucerne and stamped with more than enough postage. When the train arrived in Bern, the carpenter would mail the envelope from the train station post box before catching his connecting train back to Hochdorf.

With eyewitnesses, customs records, and a credit card trail that would lead through three European countries all but guaranteed, Miner entered Turkey from Greece with a false Maltese passport as part of a tour group, feeling quite confident that his alibi, if ever needed, would be airtight.

Twenty-four hours later, the people seated in the airline's waiting area paid no attention to the rumpled western European businessman who sat reading a day old copy of The International Herald Tribune. Disguised with blond hair, a full beard, blue contacts, and padding that made him appear twenty kilos overweight, Miner was now traveling on a Dutch passport as Henk Van DenHuevel of Utrecht.

He sat reading an article he had found quite by chance. It dealt with the upcoming ski vacation United States president Jack Rutledge was to take with his daughter, Amanda, and what it would cost American taxpayers.

As first-class passengers were welcomed aboard flight 7440 from Istanbul to New York, Miner folded the newspaper under his arm and made his way toward the gate thinking, They have absolutely no idea what this trip is going to cost.

Copyright © 2002 by Brad Thor

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter 1

The exterior ice chime sounded, warning of potential ice on the roadway, and Gerhard Miner gripped the leather steering wheel of his black Audi A6 a little tighter. His Gucci-clad foot pressed down harder on the accelerator. The sun was setting over Lake Lucerne, and a chill wind, blowing since lunch, began to pick up. Ah, what a lunch that was today, Miner thought to himself as the sleek black sedan hugged the shores of the choppy Swiss lake. It was absolutely exquisite.

Claudia Mueller, an investigator from the Federal Attorney's Office, had been pressing Miner for a face-to-face meeting to discuss a cache of armaments missing from a military base outside of Basel. Crates of special night-vision goggles, flash bang grenades, Swiss SWAT assault rifles, antitank missiles, plastique, and a couple of next-generation nonlethal weapons known as glare guns had all mysteriously disappeared.

Though Claudia had insisted her questions were just routine, Miner had been putting her off for over two months. He claimed his caseload didn't provide a single extra moment to meet with her. Surely the security of Switzerland, which Miner was charged with, overrode the necessity of asking him a few "routine" questions.

He half expected her to go away, but she didn't. Claudia wanted badly to talk with Miner and for good reason.

Five years ago, he had commanded a special division of Swiss intelligence that tested the security of military bases and weapons installations throughout the tiny country. Miner had been so successful at breaching security at the bases that his unit was shut down for fearof further embarrassment to the military establishment, and he was transferred to a different department of Swiss intelligence.

Not only had Miner commanded the special division, he had also created it. The idea for the division -- known as Der Nebel or, most appropriately, The Fog, in English -- stemmed from training Miner had received while on U.S.-Swiss cross-training exercises in Little Creek, Virginia. Little Creek was where the U.S. Navy SEAL teams involved in Atlantic, Latin American, and European operations were assigned. It was also home to the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, not to be confused with "Dev Group," the Navy's elite counterterrorist unit formerly known as SEAL Team Six, which was based in Dam Neck, Virginia. The Special Warfare Development Group was a SEAL think tank where new weapons, equipment, communications systems, and tactics were developed.

The investigative affairs agent's long list of boring questions had been the last thing Miner was interested in sitting through, but curiosity eventually got the better of him and he ordered a copy of Claudia Mueller's personnel file. In his position as one of the Swiss government's highest-ranking intelligence officers, he did not find the file hard to get, nor did his request seem at all out of the ordinary.

Miner flipped through Mueller's file with only minimal interest. As he reached the back, he slowed. The backs of files were always the most interesting part. Included were her service photo, her most recent passport photo, and best of all, a magazine photo from a climbing competition in which she had taken first prize. In sharp contrast to the serious service and passport photos, this picture showed a proud and energetic woman. Here, her ruddy face was flushed with adrenaline and the excitement of competition. She was gorgeous. There was no need to put Claudia Mueller off any longer. At that moment, Miner not only knew he had to meet her, but he had to have her.

An hour and fifteen minutes away in Bern at the Federal Attorney's Office, known as the Bundesanwaltschaft, Claudia Mueller was studying the file of Gerhard Miner for the thousandth time. Out of all the people she had spoken with during the course of her investigation, Miner had been the toughest to nail down. Sure, Miner had his reasons for being unavailable, and they all checked out when Claudia leaned on her boss to speak with his contacts at the Ministry of Defense, but something bothered her. Call it her Swiss fetish for organization. Something about Miner just didn't jibe.

Miner was fifty-three years old and never married. He was a handsome man, tall, about six foot two, and extremely fit. His gray hair was perfect, as were his expensive custom-made Italian suits. In almost any woman's opinion, Gerhard Miner would be quite a juicy catch. She was studying the photos of him yet again, glued to his deep brown eyes, when the phone rang.

"Hello?" Claudia answered, still staring at the file in front of her.

"Fräulein Mueller, this is Gerhard Miner of the SND." Strategischer Nachrichtendienst, in Swiss German, translated to the deceptively benign sounding "Strategic Information Service." The highly secretive Nachrichtendienst was a division of the Ministry of Defense and responsible for counterespionage for Switzerland. Not much beyond that was known about it, not even by the most enlightened and connected of Swiss citizens.

Instantly, Claudia's attention shifted from the pictures in front of her to the voice on the other end of the phone. "Well, Herr Miner, to what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?" Claudia asked pleasantly, masking her eagerness. After leaving messages and being dodged by Miner for the last two months, she was excited to finally have the man himself on the phone.

Miner leaned back in his chair and wondered what Claudia might be wearing. He pictured her in a highly provocative outfit, completely unlike what a woman of her position actually wore to the office. His mind continued to wander as he answered smoothly, as if on automatic pilot, "I should say the pleasure is all mine. I can't remember the last time a woman pursued me as aggressively as you have."

"I hardly believe my repeated requests for information in a formal investigation to be in the same category as you are imagining, Herr Miner."

"Of course not. I apologize. I'll tell you what, I have time available tomorrow to meet with you if you still want, but after that I will be quite busy with an ongoing assignment."

"Done," replied Claudia. "I'll meet you at your office say -- "

"Oh, I'm quite sorry once again."

"Why?"

"I won't be in my office tomorrow. I'm taking a little time off and will be at my home in Lucerne."

It wasn't unusual for government officials to keep a small apartment in the capital and then commute home on the weekends. The Swiss were extremely loyal to their cantons and ancestral homes. Claudia herself spent many weekends with her family back in Grindelwald in the house that would one day pass to her when her parents were gone.

She paused to figure out how long it would take her to get from Bern to Lucerne and whether she should go by car or by train.

"I'll tell you what," began Miner.

Again with "I'll tell you what," Claudia thought. After being dodged for two months, Claudia was ready to jump down Miner's throat, but she knew she had to be careful. She had recently applied for a new position within her organization, and stepping on the toes of one of the Ministry of Defense's most respected officers wouldn't help her move any quicker up the ladder.

Life at the Bundesanwaltschaft had grown to be extremely tedious for Claudia. She had taken the job with the Federal Attorney's Office right out of law school. She was fluent in all four official languages of Switzerland: German, Italian, French, and even the rarely spoken Romansch. She was also fluent in English. Her enviable ability with languages, tenacious manner, and keen eye for detail made Claudia a shoo-in for the Bundespolizei, the investigative affairs division of the Bundesanwaltschaft. As much as Claudia had enjoyed her job in civil intelligence at the outset, she longed for the promotion that would take her out of the mundane business of being a glorified detective and put her on cases that were much more exciting and that she could actually prosecute.

But no matter how badly Claudia wanted to switch to another department, she would not for a moment compromise an ongoing investigation. Worse than stepping on a few Ministry of Defense toes would be not solving this case. And if she couldn't solve this one, she was sure she would end up staying exactly where she was, or worse, she would get demoted, or possibly even fired.

Claudia's boss, Arianne Küess, had been handpicked to be head prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal at the United Nations Court. This meant that the missing weapons case was being led by the very disagreeable Deputy Federal Attorney, Urs Schnell. This was Schnell's first case and he wanted it wrapped up with a ribbon ASAP. He had placed a very high priority on this, and the weight rode chafingly on Claudia's shoulders. The problem was that she had not made any progress and was quickly running out of leads.

"Let's meet for lunch here. Is that convenient for you?" Without even waiting for a reply, Miner continued, "We'll meet at the restaurant in the Hotel des Balances in the Old Town. Say, twelve-thirty?"

No, it wouldn't be convenient for her to travel to Lucerne, but Claudia needed to speak with Miner, so she agreed and hung up the phone. That evening, she agonized over what to wear. She wanted to appear professional, but knowing Miner's penchant for women, she couldn't help but want to play her good looks for all they were worth. She was scraping the bottom of the ethical barrel and she knew it, but she was desperate. She chose an attractive, tight-fitting navy blue skirt that rode just above the knee and a form-fitting navy blue blazer with a funky silver blouse. She left one button undone and then undid the second upon entering the lobby of the hotel at twelve-twenty-five the following day.

Miner had been considerate enough to select one of the restaurant's quieter tables. The booth was framed at one end by a window facing onto the Reuss River. Beyond a clutch of empty iron patio tables, a group of Lucerne's swans paddled slowly past the city's historic, covered Kapellbrücke bridge. Miner appeared to be watching them as they up-ended their snow white tails, plumbing the depths of the quickly flowing current in search of food. In reality, he was using the reflection of the window to observe Investigative Affairs Agent Mueller's entrance, as well as the rest of the lunch patrons who had entered the restaurant in the last twenty minutes. Miner watched Claudia walk almost the length of the dining room, then feigned surprise when she finally reached the table.

"Herr Miner, good afternoon. Sorry to startle you." Claudia leaned over to shake his hand, certain that he had seen her entrance.

The game was on.

Two hours later, dissatisfied and angry, she left the Hotel des Balances. She needed to walk a little and clear her head. Claudia made her way up the hotel's short cobblestone driveway toward the Weinmarkt, in Lucerne's Old Town.

The Old Town, on Lucerne's right bank, was a pedestrianized area of aging cobblestone streets and buildings from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Many of the facades were decorated with frescoes depicting Swiss life. The ground floors of the buildings housed boutiques, restaurants, and small shops. One couldn't walk two meters in this part of town without seeing displays of watches or cuckoo clocks. There was no question that it was geared heavily toward tourists, but its beauty always had a soothing effect on Claudia.

She wandered aimlessly past the shops along the Kapellgasse trying to make some sense of her meeting with Miner. He had been cordial, but cordial to the point of condescension. It hadn't taken Claudia long to realize that Miner wasn't going to reveal anything, at least not willingly. He was extremely uncooperative, choosing to shroud himself in the cloak of national security whenever Claudia put a direct question to him.

"Where were you on the night the weapons were stolen?"

"On assignment."

"On assignment where and for what?"

"I cannot say."

"Can't say where, or can't say for what?"

"Neither."

"And why can't you say?"

"It is a matter of national security."

"And a large amount of sensitive weaponry missing from a Swiss defense depot isn't a matter of national security?"

"All I can say is, it is not my matter. It's yours."

"Herr Miner, is it that you can't tell me your whereabouts on the night in question, or is it that you just won't?"

"It is both," Miner replied. "I won't tell you because I can't."

"Are you aware, Herr Miner, that I can get a court order to compel you to answer my questions?"

"Yes."

"So, why don't you make it easier on both of us: answer my questions and I will go back to Bern to pursue my investigation from there."

"Fräulein Mueller, I am not in the business of making your job easy. I serve the Federal Republic of Switzerland. I'm not at liberty to answer the questions you're asking. Should you wish to attempt to compel me to answer, I assure you your efforts will be met with much resistance. I do a job for the people of Switzerland that is, shall we say, delicate. I have done this job for more years than you have even been alive. My position does not require me to answer your questions. I have told you I would be of no value to your investigation, yet you pursued me nonetheless."

Claudia was determined to get something out of him and, so, changed course. "Perhaps, then, as you are an expert on the security of Swiss military installations, maybe you could suggest to me how such a theft would be possible and where such weaponry might be secreted or sold, if that was the intent."

"Fräulein Mueller, I have learned that there are many ways to enter one of our bases undetected. A person or persons could have done so with or without assistance from someone inside. Were there any signs of a forced entry?"

"Not according to our investigation."

"Were the security measures functioning properly at the time the theft was assumed to have taken place?"

"Yes, they were."

"You of course questioned the entire base staff to see if anyone saw or heard anything unusual during the time in question?"

"Naturally."

"And?"

"And, no, nothing unusual was seen or heard."

"Fine, then, that brings us to your next question. As far as where such merchandise could be hidden, the answer is, anywhere. And, as far as where such merchandise could be sold, my answer again is, anywhere. You simply do not have enough evidence to even begin to formulate a hypothesis as to what happened. You are chasing ghosts, and I frankly do not see much hope for a successful outcome to your investigation. But, your day is not a complete loss. Since you have come all the way from Bern, you can at least enjoy your lunch and perhaps we can take a stroll together afterward."

Claudia spent the rest of their lunch probing for answers while Miner deftly parried each question. Miner also had the indecency to try to seduce her. He found Claudia attractive, and, in all fairness, she had attempted to use her wiles to goad a little more information out of him. Instead of coughing up some information, though, he had come on to her even more strongly. Claudia felt she should have known better. Though everything about him indicated he had a passion for women, passion did not necessarily equal weakness, and gambling that it might had been Claudia's mistake.

The end of their lunch was no less frustrating than its beginning. Without even consulting her, Miner ordered dessert for the two of them. This was a liberty that sent Claudia's already boiling blood over onto the stove. Number one, he ordered liquor, which Claudia didn't touch while working, and number two, he went on to lecture Claudia on her poor taste for turning down a fabulous dessert wine that the hotel Food & Beverage manager kept specially in the cellar for him. No doubt, Claudia thought to herself, Miner had something good on the F&B manager to rate such treatment. She made a mental note to check the manager out when she got back to Bern.

It wasn't enough that he let her know the wine was a special delicacy the hotel reserved solely for him. No, Miner had to go on and make sure that uneducated little Claudia knew exactly what she was missing. In a tone that was entirely haughty, and which entirely suited Gerhard Miner, he launched into what sounded like a rote recitation of a wine club's tasting notes.

Vin de Constance was a dessert wine from the Constantia estate in South Africa. It was a favorite of Napoleon Bonaparte, who had thirty bottles a month shipped to Elba to ease the misery of his banishment. The king of Prussia as well as Louis XVI loved Vin de Constance. Dickens celebrated it in Edwin Drood, and Baudelaire said, "only the lips of a lover surpassed it in heavenly sweetness." Only twelve thousand bottles were produced annually, with almost all of them accounted for before they hit the market. An American colleague who had introduced Miner to the stuff helped arrange for a case to be sent to Switzerland. No small feat, as Vin de Constance was one of the most coveted wines in the world.

Throughout this ridiculous speech, Claudia developed a pretty good plan for where Miner could put his wine if the hotel's cellar ever got overcrowded. Though she had already politely declined Miner's offer, he poured the expensive liquid into her glass anyway. A faint sneer developed at the corner of Miner's mouth when Claudia grabbed the neck of the bottle and repeated, "I said, no thank you." The sneer, which Miner quickly masked with a false smile, proved to Claudia that the man was not completely impenetrable. She counted this as one small victory in the series of sharp defeats that had been their lunch.

Claudia had so strongly insisted on questioning Miner because he was her last possible lead. She had exhausted everything else. Claudia had gone back and questioned the military base staff again and again. She had monitored their bank accounts and purchasing patterns, hoping that if there was someone involved on the inside, he or she would slip up and make a large deposit or a large purchase that couldn't be explained away. To date, nothing had come to light. Nothing had turned up in Switzerland, and nothing had turned up on the black markets abroad.

The Vin de Constance lecture notwithstanding, Claudia felt as if she didn't know any more today than she had yesterday and that her whole trip to Lucerne had been a waste of time. As far as the missing weapons were concerned, Miner did have better means than anyone else in all of Switzerland to steal them. Claudia was dead-on. But just because Miner had once been involved in government-sanctioned exercises testing the security of Swiss military establishments didn't mean that he had anything to do with her theft.

Miner was also right about something. Any attempt to try to get a judge to compel him to answer her questions would be met with resistance from the highest ranks of the Swiss government. Lacking any evidence whatsoever against Miner, there was no way anyone would force him to cooperate.

With Miner refusing to cooperate, Claudia didn't even have straws to grasp at. All she had was air. Her investigation had been marked by failure after failure. Though her gut told her one thing, her mind told her it was a million-to-one shot that she could have turned Miner into a bona fide suspect. Now Claudia Mueller's investigation and her career were at a complete standstill.

As Gerhard Miner pulled into the long-term parking lot at Zurich International Airport, he was no longer thinking about Claudia; his mind was back on his mission. The sudden schedule change had bothered him, but such was the nature of his business. Heads of state often shortened trips or changed plans altogether at the last minute. As this trip was set to coincide with the birthday of the American president's fifteen-year-old daughter, Miner had been certain that, barring any international incident, the president would spend as much time as he could on his ski trip. The fact that the president was now planning to cut it short by a couple of days was inconvenient, but it didn't make the mission impossible.

Miner entered the empty first-class line and presented his ticket and passport. He went out of his way to be extra flirtatious with the female desk staff, who wondered why such a handsome man did not have an attractive woman traveling with him to Athens.

While waiting in the Swissair lounge for his flight to board, he changed tack and acted enraged when a young waitress spilled a glass of cabernet all over his trousers. The poor young girl thought it was her fault, when, in fact, Miner had leaned his shoulder forward and nudged her tray as she was placing a cocktail napkin on the table. His explosion earned him an effusive apology that lasted from the first-class lounge all the way to the gate from a Swissair airport services manager. Once Miner had been seated on the plane, the manager again apologized and asked the chief first-class flight attendant to take especially good care of this long-suffering passenger. Miner had achieved exactly what he wanted. At least five people would be able to vouch that he had boarded the Swissair flight to Greece.

He spent the next week and a half in the popular ports of Paros and Mykonos, spending too much money entertaining new friends and repairing repeated "mechanical problems" on his rented sailboat. He overtipped waiters, barmen, and harbormasters. Not only would Miner be remembered, but many would be anxiously awaiting the return of the man and his easy-flowing money next season.

Secure that his alibi was well established, Miner sailed to the uninhabited island of Despotiko, about three hours southwest of Mykonos. Waiting there for Miner, just as planned, was his cousin from the Swiss town of Hochdorf, a carpenter who bore an incredible likeness to him.

Happy to have a free vacation and knowing the sensitivity of his cousin's occupation, the carpenter from Hochdorf never asked any questions. The plan was for him to continue sailing south to Santorini and then Crete, where he would leave the rented yacht, citing a string of mechanical problems as the reason. The carpenter would then make his way to the western port of Patras, where a first-class cabin was booked on a Minoan Line cruise ship to Venice.

His cousin would be traveling on Miner's passport and Visa credit card. Knowing that cabin stewards present first-class passengers' passports for them to customs officials as a courtesy, Miner was not worried about his cousin or his passport receiving any undue scrutiny. The carpenter was to spend a week in northern Italy before proceeding via train to France.

Miner had booked his cousin on an overnight train in a first-class compartment. As the train would be crossing the French border while passengers were sleeping, the steward would gather passports as passengers boarded, present them to border officials sometime during the night, and then return them with breakfast in the morning.

After a week in France, the carpenter would take a final overnight train back to Switzerland, where the customary passport collection by the steward would once again be conducted. When the steward delivered the passport with breakfast the next morning, the carpenter was to place it in a thick, manila envelope with the canceled train tickets, credit card receipts, and other odds and ends he had been told to accumulate during his wonderful vacation. The envelope was addressed to a post office box in Lucerne and stamped with more than enough postage. When the train arrived in Bern, the carpenter would mail the envelope from the train station post box before catching his connecting train back to Hochdorf.

With eyewitnesses, customs records, and a credit card trail that would lead through three European countries all but guaranteed, Miner entered Turkey from Greece with a false Maltese passport as part of a tour group, feeling quite confident that his alibi, if ever needed, would be airtight.

Twenty-four hours later, the people seated in the airline's waiting area paid no attention to the rumpled western European businessman who sat reading a day old copy of The International Herald Tribune. Disguised with blond hair, a full beard, blue contacts, and padding that made him appear twenty kilos overweight, Miner was now traveling on a Dutch passport as Henk Van DenHuevel of Utrecht.

He sat reading an article he had found quite by chance. It dealt with the upcoming ski vacation United States president Jack Rutledge was to take with his daughter, Amanda, and what it would cost American taxpayers.

As first-class passengers were welcomed aboard flight 7440 from Istanbul to New York, Miner folded the newspaper under his arm and made his way toward the gate thinking, They have absolutely no idea what this trip is going to cost.

Copyright © 2002 by Brad Thor
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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
Smart alec...Smart-ass...Wise guy...Wiseass -- I heard them all growing up. They were normally preceded by, "What are you, a…" and you can take your pick what came next. While some kids could put the brakes on their vocal chords, the minute a sentence popped into my head, it was zipping right out of my mouth. From a very young age, Sister Mary Margaret McMahon used tell me that it wasn't what I said, but how I said it that got me into trouble.

As soon as I got big enough to fight, I found that it really didn't matter what I said or how I said it. Some people would take a poke at you for no reason at all. This taught me two things. No. 1, If your mouth got you into trouble, nine out of ten times (if you were smart enough) your mouth could get you out of trouble. And No. 2, when it came to that tenth time, you needed to know how to defend yourself and defeat your opponent's attack.

Now, I don't want you to think that I grew up having fight after fight. I didn't. Nine out of ten times I was able to talk my way out of things. I did have a couple of those tenth times, and I bear the scars and trips to the hospital to prove it, but that's not what's important here. What is important is how my penchant for spouting snappy rejoinders and witty put-downs was channeled into healthy and productive use as an author.

I was a big fan of James Bond growing up. It wasn't the gadgets that intrigued me -- it was the man. He always had precisely the right thing to say at precisely the right moment. You never saw Bond slapping himself on the forehead in the Aston Martin saying, "Why didn't I say that to Goldfinger?" I liked that about Bond. At the same time, though, I found Bond to be too aloof. Short of the fact that I sported license plates that read "THNDRBL," I didn't feel that James and I connected on a lot of other levels. Enter the main character of my novel, The Lions of Lucerne, Scot Harvath.

Scot is a very, very smart guy. An ex–Navy SEAL and current Secret Service agent, he has some of the world's best training in strategy, not only offensive but also defensive. He's big, he's tough, and has a penchant for snappy rejoinders and a wide variety of witty remarks. He knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off. He is a professional through and through. When the situation warrants, he is deadly serious, but at other times he possesses a fantastic sense of humor that comes from staring death in the face on a daily basis.

My favorite facet of Scot Harvath is that he has the perfect balance of savoir-faire and street smarts. Not only has he been around the block, but he's been around the world, and he can handle himself in any situation. "Character" and "honor" are not empty words for Harvath. Neither are "American" and "patriot." This is a man who is driven by what is right. He will accept no other outcome than success. Even if he must swim against the current and the wishes of his superiors, Scot Harvath will get the job done. And when it is done, he's equally comfortable celebrating with a bottle of Bollinger or a six-pack of Sam Adams.

I don't know for sure what Sister McMahon would have thought of Scot Harvath, but I'd like to think she would have enjoyed his company. He's bright, well read, self-made, funny -- and unlike some people who shall (ahem) remain nameless, knows very well what to say and how to say it. (Brad Thor)

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 375 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Lions of Lurcene

    Brad Thor has just become my new "gotta read" author--I picked this up knowing I was going to be needing something to read while waiting for appointments.Well- it did not stay in my purse when I made it home- I ended up staying awake till I finished it. I am also so excited to see there are quite a few more books in this series to enjoy. This is a keeper and I know I will be re-reading it--a few times. This is not a book JUST for women or men- it is for those who like adventure and a bit of humor in their stories.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Spring-board Into The Rest Of The Series

    I have to start this review by saying that I absolutely love Brad Thor's books. That being said, this was obviously his first effort and it is certainly not his best work. The story is slower than most of the rest of the Scot Harvath series and the, while the plot is interesting, it is also predictable and the ending is a bit anti-climatic. However, this book really develops Scot Harvath's character for the rest of the books and character development is one thing that Thor does and excellent job of executing. This really should be read in order to fully appreciate the other books.

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Picture "The Bourne Identity" meets "Air Force One"

    I really enjoyed this book. The characters were enjoyable and the plot was interesting. There could have been a little more character development, but then again, this was the abridged version so perhaps that was a part that was skimmed down.

    I found myself being able to get into the action as the main character continues to search for clues as to who kidnapped the President and how to get him back alive.

    While aspects of the plot might have seemed a little farfetched at times, it was still believable enough in the world of conspiracies and spies. If you are someone who likes action and adventure, this book makes a good "read", especially while commuting to work!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    One of Brad Thor's BEST books!

    I've read a few of Brad's books (Scot Harvath Series) until I decided to read all his Scot Harvath stories in date written order, which #1 is "The Lions of Lucerne". What a rollercoaster ride--excitement, thrills, adventure, and an amazing journey through the eyes of a special ops warrior as he experiences danger and threats. I'd say this is my No. 1 favorite, although all his books are amazing. Great story!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    First Ebook read

    This was a good book to start using my Nook. It was a fast and exciting read. Liked most of the plot, but thought that the author wrote Scot to be a really super hero type character, yet he sure made some stupid mistakes. Still liked the idea. I have travelled in Europe and it was fun to recognize places I have seen.
    Good overall book.
    Enjoy

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Action Series!

    This series is action packed and will keep you guessing. If you love spy novels, then this series is for you! Excellent read, a real page turner!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    I love Scot & Brad Thor.

    I just thought I would try one of Brad Thor's books to see how I liked him, I am love with another author. I just finished my third one. I toyed with the idea of reading someone else now or Brad again. Brad just won out. I am buying the fourth novel tonight!! He is a good read and though I don't see one Pulitzer after another with this series, I CANNOT put Scot away just yet. Brad, please keep writing about my boy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Very fast reading with a lot of action and adventure.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    Good quick tead

    Read all in one day-enjoyed!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

    It's written well enough but just a bit too much

    My first read of Brad Thor. I like authors like Deaver, Flynn, Connelly etc and a friend said "give Thor a try, he's good".

    I will agree the book was entertaining I found it a bit to much for me. Fiction is just that but to me it needs to be somewhat believable however this book was not. Everything lined up too well, all the key players were of course folks Scot would be the first to trust only to turn out to be in on it, really?

    Another thing that just made me shake my head was there was a little too much extra fill writing in places there did not need to be. Something to be said in 2 pages would drag on for 10 - I have never seen this before in any of my other favorite authors but having said that I will continue book 2 just see how that one fair in comparison to this... I can only hope things get a little better..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    Not My Cup of Tea

    Good plot & story. Not well written & immature.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    a little too much detail

    This was my first Brad Thor novel... and I've already purchased another (still unread) but I'm hoping that the next in the Scot Harvath series won't be quite as detailed... I found myself scanning many of the paragraphs in this one.
    The plot and story line here are terrific with an interesting twist that you don't see coming. But unless you're familiar with Switzerland, all the street names and locations are an unnecessary distraction to the story. Also... poor Scot! It's a wonder he was still standing at the end... not sure many mere mortals could escape as many brushes with death as he did in such a short time... there were enough to last for at least another whole story!
    This author was recommended to me... I'll continue to follow Scot's escapades with hopes that sequels to Lions are easier reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Excellent, well crafted

    As always, excellent ensemble of characters, complex but understandable story line.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2014

    This book was great

    This book was great

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014

    highly recommend

    Could not put it down until I had finished reading it. Topok a few hours but well worth it. One of the best Brad Thor books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    Entertaining, relatively light for a thriller

    I enjoyed meeting Scot Harvath in this 1st of the series. Brad Thor goes into a bit more detail on his characters actions, which is refreshing. Sometimes I've wanted to imagine things in more detail from the author's viewpoint.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Sack wo Sack of muffinnuts

    Happy abfbcooepdiebqijjd powoekfjdppwnrk reversed arpits



    Wwfiookd
    Rieiskf


    Jkkfjwkejfjnododkw

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Misty

    YOURE BACK tackes witha hug

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Walk On By

    A brainless but action packed read. The author does not think much of his reader as there is a great deal of redundancy and a thought that could be conveyed in a paragraph often takes a chapter. On a long plane ride? Sleep is a better alternative.

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