The Forgotten Soldier
A Pike Logan Thriller by Brad Taylor
Book review by Jules Brenner
Dutton, released 12/29/15, 432 pp., $26.95
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Taylor has turned his military training and writing skills into a stream of successful mystery thrillers starring Nephilim "Pike" Logan, as the head of an off-the-books, top secret, counterterrorist unit they call Taskforce. Controlled by a governmental Oversight Council, this extra-constitutional organization deals with criminal networks and masterminds without the usual encumbrances of law. Perhaps reminding us of the Patriot Act, it's an instrument to take certain liberties with the rules when a threat against the country is imminent and when legal processes would not avert a catastrophe.

The few men in the upper branches of government that legitimize what a Taskforce unit may do or not do includes the president (Warren), the Veep, the Secretary of State (Billings), Colonel Kurt Hale, Taskforce's overseer, and a few others.

While there is a plot afoot in one of those circles of deceit and terrorism, we don't yet have a clue about it. The device that brings it to Pike's attention begins when Taskforce unit leader Guy George learns of his brother's death in Afghanistan and, with a clue to the identities of the killers and rage in his heart, he goes out in a solo operation to terminate the Qatari jihadists responsible.

Logan, and his crew of expert combatants, are tasked to find George ASAP and talk him out of acting as a lone wolf on a personal vendetta -- against all norms and protocol of the outfit. Logan's mission is to bring his equally skilled peer back or... do whatever may be necessary to avoid anything that could expose the group to public scrutiny and scandal.

While Logan and his crack team (Jennifer, Knuckles, etc.) is tracking George down, the rogue operator discovers one of his suspects involved in a conspiracy being plotted by the Qatar Investment Authority to dupe the Secretary of State in a false effort to lend money to Greece in order to save the value of the Euro. (Remember that issue?)

Unfortunately, the Secretary is too arrogant to question his own decisions and fails to smell a rat in the bank deal. He discloses too much information to the head of the bank, which makes this more complicated than a rogue agent's desire for payback.

The diplomatic tightrope on which Logan and his squad must balance turns nightmarish as they fall pray to traps, close calls, narrow escapes, and get into a bank heist, with hacking. Plus, geo-political twists that tangle up the job but maintains the tension.

With all that, Taylor's sensitivity and humanity show in the interpersonal relationships within Logan's team. In his last three adventures, he develops the remarkable idea of a woman, Jennifer Cahill, as someone with the skills to be accepted into the tough macho detachment of Delta style operators.

Since being introduced, her lightning speed and deadly power over tough enemies has defused the men's initial consternation and challenges, slowly winning approval and, secretly, developing a love relationship with Pike. In this episode the covert relationship changes to something rather unusual in counterterrorist fiction. My impression is that it's a ticket to a wider audience. There's nothing like a babe who can do what the guys can... and make them marvel. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

If you don't yet own The Forgotten Soldier and would like to purchase it (usually at a sizable discount), click here.