Every time I start a counterterrorism thriller, I have to stop and sort things out a bit to make sure I’m recalling who’s done what. Did Mitch Rapp do that? Or was it Scot Harvath, Pike Logan or Gabriel Allon?
That process didn’t take long in Brad Taylor’s “Ghosts of War” (Dutton, $27, 398 pages), because he grabbed me immediately and whisked me away on a supercharged, suspenseful journey that left little time for pondering the past.
Taylor broke the mold a bit in his 10th Pike Logan novel, veering away from his usual terrorist-centric plot and venturing into international intrigue with the global community teetering on the brink of World War III. Russian leader Vladimir Putin is trying to manipulate his way into Belarus and the Baltic States, with subterfuge that makes his actions seem like self-defense. Things get out of his control when an unintentionally devastating attack on the United States leads to a necessary show of force by the U.S. military and a mobilization of NATO forces.
Meanwhile, Logan and his black ops Taskforce have been sidelined after a rogue operative went too far afield in a previous operation. But Logan and his partner, Jennifer Cahill, are conveniently close to the action in Poland and Austria while on a private mission with a couple of Israelis seeking to recover the stolen Torah.
Through the political prowess of the Taskforce leader back in Washington, D.C., Logan and the team get back in the game as the only ones capable of stopping the ticking time bomb that could lead to a war nobody could win and perhaps all would lose.
Taylor juggles all this with a deft hand that delivers a logical step-by-step narrative, steadily building the suspense without false steps that could lead to reader frustration with a lesser author at the helm. It all makes sense. It all rings loud and clear with plausibility. And even though a savvy reader pretty much knows “what’s” going to happen, Taylor gets you there with a particularly satisfying “how.” And we learn a great deal more about the main characters along the way, which is a must in a long literary series such as this.
Now it’s time to wait for more books about those anti-terrorism heroes.