The New York Times best selling author Brad Thor has made a living writing intricately plotted, terrorism themed, suspense thrillers featuring fictional hero and former Navy Seal Scot Harvath. His tenth novel, The Athena Project is a bit of departure from the usual formula in that it focuses on Delta Force's fictional elite, top-secret, all female counter-terrorism unit, operating under the government code name, of The Athena Project, assembled to handle some of the nation's most delicate and riskiest assignments.
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After a terrorist attack in Rome results in the death of over twenty Americans, the team consisting of four of the project's top agents, Gretchen Case, Julie Ericsson, Megan Rhodes, and Alex Cooper are assigned to locate a ruthless Venetian arms dealer who supplied the explosives to the terrorists. In the process, they make a startling discovery of the grisly remains of Nazi experiments during World War II in South America.
Meanwhile, a foreign spy in Colorado is on the brink of unearthing a mysterious secret the U.S. government has kept hidden for decades. As the Athena team closes in on their target, they discover the threat of a second attack, with a much more potentially deadly outcome. They must race against the terrorists to uncover the greatest threat of all; secrets kept by the United States government.
Of all of Thor's novels, The Athena Project features the most implausible, far-fetched, unrealistic plot of the lot, relying on cutting edge technology including everything from quantum physics, to time travel experiments and EMP (electromagnetic pulse) bombs used as teleportation weaponry, in a secret government project known as Angel's Gate, similar to the Manhattan Project, as a backdrop for the main plot. This, combined with a cat-and-mouse game involving the Athena team, a foursome of strikingly beautiful and athletic operatives who use everything, including their feminine mystique, to track down deadly terrorists, is enough to keep the average reader mildly interested, in this relatively short, 396 page briskly paced, action-packed thriller.
Overall, Thor does a pretty good job of character development with each of the members of the Athena team taking on distinct personality traits, and providing lively banter throughout the assignment. This, however, tends to undercut the more serious implications of the terrorism theme at the core of the novel, as demonstrated in the following excerpt:
"When Casey and Rhodes arrived at the run-down apartment building, they saw several high-end luxury vehicles already parked in front.
"There's nothing better than blending in, is there?" asked Megan
Gretchen shook her head. "Russian mafia. What do you expect?"
Two large men in cheap suits with fake Rolexes took entirely too much time patting the ladies down. "You know I normally get dinner first," quipped Rhodes.
Bottom line, this novel is basically the literary equivalent of the television series Charlie's Angels; coming across more as farce, than a seriously crafted, realistic, suspense thriller.
I give Thor credit for attempting to stretch his wings and try something a little new and different. Unfortunately, this effort is a bit over-the-top. Thor misses the mark a bit on this one, in a mediocre effort, with shades of James Bond and Charlie's Angesl with a bit of Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum thrown in for good measure. It's a recipe for a mildly entertaining, technologically driven, but ultimately disappointing, half-baked, suspense thriller.
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