Brad Taylor debuted his Pike Logan thriller series in 2011 but in the period of only six years, he has managed to produce an impressive collection of twelve novels and seven novellas. Having proven himself over the years with the military thriller fans and in the bestseller lists, he took a different approach in writing his latest novel Operator Down.
Operator Down is the first book from Mr. Taylor where he began with a blank slate and a plan instead of relying on a news story to spark an idea. The book has been a departure point for him from furiously typing two books a year to having some time to actually ponder. The result is something different: It’s a story that would never make the US news cycle yet it is still real.
Introducing an African element in this new story, the author made a research trip to Lesotho where he was detained by a counterintelligence unit for “spying” on Lesotho Special Forces and was interrogated for six and a half hours. In the end, everything he learned during those experiences played out in the book.
The result is a refreshing plot, compared to previous novels, which places Pike Logan on a collision course with a ruthless military coup in Africa: A story which, if nothing else, is entertaining.
The release of Operator Down is an excuse for Mystery Tribune to take a look at Brad Taylor’ rich career and some of the most popular espionage thrillers in the market.
Brad Taylor: A Brief Biography
Brad Taylor was born on Okinawa, Japan, but grew up on 40-acres in rural Texas. Graduating from the University of Texas, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry. He served for more than 21 years, retiring as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel. During that time he held numerous Infantry and Special Forces positions, including eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta where he commanded multiple troops and a squadron.
His final assignment was as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. In 2011, Brad published his debut novel, One Rough Man, which was an immediate success and launched the Pike Logan series. Now with more than 11 installments and 1.6 million copies sold, the series has consistently hit the New York Times bestseller list. He lives in Charleston, SC with his wife and two daughters.
Brad Taylor In His Own Words (Interviews):
Perhaps the most relevant interview Brad Taylor has done with the media, when it comes to his writing, is his conversation with Alberto Rios (Arizona PBS). In his brief TV exchange, the author talks about his process for writing, character development, writer’s block and ending a book.
In story development, for example, Mr. Taylor does not develop an outline. In fact he claims he doesn’t know how to prepare one properly. Instead, he starts with a thread which he knows how it is going to develop. He uses this as a compass and will change the details or even the ending based on research or ad-hoc thoughts during the writing phase (if necessary).
Unlike what many writers experience, he does not have a writer’s block and is always taking notes in his personal journal. He moves his notes to his manuscript file once he feels he has enough details to write a chapter of piece.
Keeping the characters and their personal attributes consistent through his series is something the author has found challenging, especially as the number of figures has mushroomed over the years.
Lastly, Mr. Taylor’s usually finishing up a book through the the typical collaborative process of working with book editors to polish the first draft.
Brad Taylor Books (In Order):
A key element of Pike Logan novels is Taskforce—a top secret team that exists outside the bounds of U.S. law and is charged with finding and destroying asymmetric threats. Pike Logan is a member and lead within this team.
One Rough Man (#1): As previously mentioned, Pike Logan series started out with One Rough Man in 2011. In this novel, Pike Logan is the most successful operator on the Taskforce. However a personal tragedy permanently alters his outlook on the world.
All Necessary Force (#2): A shadowy trail leads the Taskforce to Egypt—where an attack leaves one member dead and another barely alive. Pike Logan and his young partner, Jennifer Cahill, are forced to helm the increasingly convoluted and dangerous mission: a mission that tests both Jennifer’s ability to justify her actions, and Pike’s tenuous ability to stay in control.
Sifting their way through the opposing plots of two terrorist organizations will turn out to be the least of their problems when a weapon of unthinkable power touches American soil—the only country in which Taskforce members are forbidden to operate, and the only country that Pike Logan may be unable to save.
Enemy of Mine (#3): A tentative peace between Israel and Palestine has been brokered by the United States. But the Taskforce hears of an assassination attempt on the American envoy sent to solidify the treaty. The Taskforce must devote every resource to saving his life—and preventing another bloody outbreak of violence.
Pike Logan and his partner, Jennifer Cahill, must hunt down the assassin through the Middle East, following a trail that becomes more perilous at every turn. And they must deal with terrorist organizations, independent killers, and shaky allies to uncover the biggest threat of all: an American citizen hiding a secret that just may destroy everything, including the Taskforce.
The Widow’s Strike (#4): Invented by nature and genetically manipulated by man, a highly lethal virus has just fallen into the wrong hands. Angered by sanctions placed against its nuclear program, a rogue state is determined to release the virus. The only thing standing in its way is the extralegal counterterrorist unit known as the Taskforce.
But as they follow the trail of the virus across Southeast Asia to the United States, the Taskforce soon learns that the enemy they face may not be the enemy they should fear.
The Polaris Protocol (#5): As an investigative reporter working on the Mexican drug cartels, Jack Cahill has unknowingly gotten caught between two rival groups. His desperate call to his sister is his last before he’s kidnapped.
In their efforts to rescue Jack, Pike and Jennifer uncover a plot much more insidious than illegal drug trafficking—the cartel that put a target on Jack’s back has discovered a GPS hack with the power to effectively debilitate the United States.
With the GPS hack about to be exploited and Jack’s life at stake, Jennifer and Pike must find a way to eliminate the impending threat. The price of failure, for both the Taskforce and the country, is higher than ever.
Days of Rage (#6): Intent on embroiling the US in a quagmire that will sap its economy and drain its legitimacy, Russia passes a potential weapon of mass destruction to Boko Haram, an extreme Islamic sect in Nigeria. The Russian FSB believes the weapon, a relic of the Cold War, has deteriorated and is no longer effective, but they are wrong. Boko Haram has the means for mass destruction, which will be set loose upon a multitude of unsuspecting innocents on one of the world’s grandest stages.
Trying to uncover who might be stalking them, Pike Logan and the Taskforce have no idea what has been set in motion. But there is another secret from the Cold War buried in the Russian FSB, and exposing it will mean the difference between life and death for millions.
No Fortunate Son (#7): When Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill receive a letter from the umbrella cover company for their real employer the Taskforce—they expect orders for their next mission. Instead, they learn that their latest actions have gotten them fired, despite having saved thousands of innocent lives.
Pike’s shock and fury is redirected when their commander, Colonel Kurt Hale, asks him and Jennifer for help with a personal matter: His niece Kylie, an exchange student in England, has gone missing. Neither Pike nor Jennifer understands how critical her disappearance will become.
Meanwhile, all Taskforce teams have been redirected to a developing situation. A terrorist organization has targeted military relatives of key members of the US government, including the vice president’s son. Now they’re faced with a terrible choice: cease counter-terrorist operations, or watch hostages die one by one.
How much is a single life worth? Unless the Taskforce can decipher the web of lies devised by their enemies, the United States is about to find out.
The Insider Threat (#8): The United States has anticipated and averted countless attacks from terrorist groups—thanks in large part to the Taskforce. But now, a much more insidious evil is about to shatter the false sense of safety surrounding civilized nations.
While world powers combat ISIS on the battlefield, a different threat is set in motion by the group—one that can’t be defeated by an airstrike. Off the radar of every Western intelligence organization, able to penetrate America or any European state, they intend to commit an act of unimaginable barbarity.
Only Pike Logan and the Taskforce stand in the way of an attack no one anticipates, a grand deception that will wreak unthinkable chaos and reverberate throughout the Western world.
The Forgotten Soldier (#9): For years, the Taskforce has worked in the shadows, anticipating and preventing attacks around the globe. Created to deal with a terrorist threat that shuns the civilized rule of law, it abandoned the same, operating outside of the US Constitution. Though wildly successful, it was rooted in a fear that the cure could be worse than the disease.
And now that fear has come home. A Special Forces soldier is killed on an operation in Afghanistan, and complicit in the attack is a government official of an allied nation. While the US administration wants to forget the casualty, one Taskforce member will not. When he sets out to avenge his brother’s death, his actions threaten to not only expose the Taskforce’s activities, but also destroy a web of alliances against a greater evil.
Pike Logan understands the desire, but also the danger. Brought in to eliminate the risk, he’s now forced to choose between his friend and the administration he’s sworn to protect, while unbeknownst to either of them, the soldier’s death is only the beginning.
Ghosts of War (#10): The Taskforce has stopped countless terrorist threats across the globe, operating outside of US law to prevent the death of innocents. But now, along the fault lines of the old Iron Curtain, the danger is far greater than a single attack. With Russia expanding its influence from Syria to the Baltic States, the Taskforce is placed on stand-down because of the actions of one rogue operator.
Meanwhile, Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill travel to Poland, hired to verify artifacts hidden for decades in a fabled Nazi gold train, only to find themselves caught amid growing tensions between East and West. A Russian incursion into Belarus under the facade of self-defense is trumped by a horrific attack against the United States, driving NATO to mobilize even as it tries to determine who is behind the strike.
On the brink of war, Pike and Jennifer discover that there is a separate agenda in play, one determined to force a showdown between NATO and Russia. With time running out, and America demanding vengeance, Pike and Jennifer race to unravel the mystery before a point of no return is reached. Unbeknownst to them, there is another attack on the way. One that will guarantee World War III.
Ring of Fire (#11): Fifteen years ago, in order to win a contract in the Kingdom, a desperate defense contractor used a shell company to provide a bribe to a wealthy Saudi businessman. Now a powerful player in the defense industry, he panics when the Panama Papers burst onto the public scene. Providing insight into the illicit deeds of offshore financing, they could prove his undoing.
To prevent the exposure of his illegal activities, he sets in motion a plan to interdict the next leak, but he is not the only one worried about spilled secrets. The data theft has left the Taskforce potentially vulnerable, leaving a trail that could compromise the unit. Back in the good graces of the new president, Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are ordered to interdict the next leak as well, in order to control the damage.
Unbeknownst to either group, the Saudi has been using the shell company to fund terrorists all over the world, and he has a spectacular attack planned, coinciding with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. The information Pike and Jennifer uncover will put them on the trail of the imminent threat, but it’s one that they might be unable to stop.
Called Ring of Fire, it will cause unimaginable destruction across the United States, and the ensuing chaos and terror will distract the Taskforce from a truth no one sees: Ring of Fire was only the beginning, and the danger is far from over.
Operator Down (#12): It was to be a simple mission. Nothing more than assessing whether a merchant in the fabled Israeli Diamond Exchange was involved in a scheme that could potentially embarrass the state of Israel. But nothing is ever simple in the world of intelligence, as Aaron Bergman—a former leader of an elite direct action team under the Mossad—should have known. Executing the operation as a contractor, a cutout that gave the State of Israel plausible deniability, he disappears without a trace.
Pike Logan and his team know none of this, but he’s tracking an American arms dealer in Tel Aviv who may—or may not—be attempting to sell sensitive nuclear weapons components to the highest bidder. When Pike’s team breaks up an attempt at killing Shoshana, Aaron’s partner, they stumble upon much more than they expected—a concerted conspiracy to topple a democratic African country.
Beginning to untangle a web that extends through both the American and Israeli intelligence community, Pike is forced to choose between his Israeli friends and his Taskforce mission, even as the execution of the coup begins to form. At the heart of it is Aaron, and his disappearance is the one mistake the plotters made. Because Shoshana is the greatest killing machine the Mossad has ever produced, and she will stop at nothing to help Aaron, even if it means killing Pike Logan.
Brad Taylor Novellas / Short Stories (In Order):
The Callsign (#1): Commissioned at the highest level of the U.S. government, a new counter-terrorist unit known as the Taskforce has just been formed, but not fully tested. Until now. Pike Logan has been given a team of operators drawn from the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and the military’s Special Operations Forces without any say in selecting the men on which he must depend.
While executing a full mission profile exercise on U.S. soil, a target of opportunity appears before the Taskforce is deemed mission capable. Forced to execute, Pike and his team are sent to Yemen to track their first real target. The future of the Taskforce depends on their success, but when Pike is challenged by one of his own, their clear-cut mission teeters on the brink of disaster. The price of failure will reverberate much deeper than the loss of the target – straight into the presidency itself.
Gut Instinct (#2): Fresh off of a brutal mission with the Taskforce, Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are still dealing with its aftereffects. With his injuries on the mend, Pike is forced to let Jennifer take the lead when another Taskforce team asks for her help. But when her stint spying on two women suspected of involvement in a terrorist plot leads her in another direction, the team leader won’t take her seriously.
Butting heads with Pike costs them credibility, but Jennifer won’t let it go. Determined to uncover the true target, Pike must trust Jennifer’s instincts more than ever. Being wrong means risking their reputations and future with the Taskforce, but being right means averting a threat that nobody else can see. A threat that may be bigger than they can handle.
Black Flag (#3): On leave after a particularly critical and dangerous mission with the Taskforce, operators Knuckles and Brett have joined Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill in Charleston, South Carolina. Their goal is to learn more about Grolier Recovery Services, the archaeological research agency that the Taskforce team uses as sophisticated cover for their work.
But when Knuckles accepts a job to find missing treasure from the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, the whole team is put to the test, because their new employers have a very different agenda, one that leaves members of the Taskforce at the mercy of real pirates determined to get their hands on a shipment of precious contraband at any cost.
The Dig (#4): After finding the ruins of a Mayan temple—and saving the world from a terrorist attack—Pike Logan has been given the chance to rejoin the Taskforce, a top secret counterterrorist organization that operates outside the bounds of US law. But before he becomes an operator again, he’s determined to get Jennifer Cahill into the Taskforce as well, though no one else seems willing to give a female civilian a shot.
Jennifer herself would rather focus on setting up their new company, Grolier Recovery Services, an archaeological research agency that Pike hopes will also serve as a sophisticated cover for future Taskforce missions. When Grolier receives its first job offer to check out a site in Roswell, New Mexico, Jennifer convinces Pike to go. But once they arrive it’s clear that there’s a lot more going on than a simple search for Indian artifacts, and uncovering the secrets carefully guarded out in the desert could not only cost them their future with the Taskforce, but their very lives.
The Recruit (#5): When Taskforce operator Knuckles brings his old friend Decoy, a former teammate from the Navy SEALs, to Lima, Peru, he wonders if he’s made a mistake. Knuckles’ only objective is to assess Decoy’s covert surveillance skills on an orientation deployment, the final step before any recruit is accepted into the extralegal counterterrorist organization known as the Taskforce.
Just when Decoy’s wild side threatens to expose their cover as technicians working for the embassy—and derail his chances of becoming a full member of the Taskforce—the two uncover an unexpected piece of intelligence involving the terrorist group, the Shining Path, that causes their mission to go from evaluation to operational. With no backup and a flimsy cover story, Knuckles and Decoy find themselves in murky territory, relying on the help of an untried asset to prevent a devastating attack on countless innocents.
The Target (#6): 1998. A year after a disastrous mission in Amman, Jordan, Israeli operative Aaron Bergman and his Samson team feel more like outcasts than ever. Fearful that his team is about to be disbanded, Aaron is thrown another curve: a cast-off operative named Shoshana, who nobody in the Mossad trusts, and who all feel is a traitor. When the new commander of the Mossad summons them immediately after being sworn in, Aaron’s fears are confirmed. The team is cut free from the Mossad but not from serving their new leader.
Unsanctioned by the Israeli government, their mission is to assassinate a Nazi murderer from Auschwitz: a man who stood guard on the wall of death and has since escaped to Argentina, and who is running a lucrative business with his sons. When Aaron and Shoshana accept the mission, it sets them on a collision course with an active operation involving a reborn Nazi web intertwined with Iran, forcing the pair to trust each other as the evil they were tasked with destroying sets its sights on one last strike against Israel no one sees coming.
The Infiltrator (#7): Taskforce operators Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are used to traveling all over the world for counterterrorist missions, but this time they’re in the Old City of Jerusalem under happier circumstances. Their friends Aaron and Shoshana, former operatives with Israeli Mossad, are getting married and they’ve chosen to tie the knot at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. The holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, the Temple Mount is a fault line between Jews and Muslims, the flash point for eons of strife–and it will still prove to be true today.
Unbeknownst to them, a cell of Palestinian terrorists has planned an attack against innocent tourists to incite the Arab world to demand that Israel retreat from the holy site. But the terrorists don’t realize that they themselves are being played by an infiltrator with a subversive plot that will lead to the Arabs’ loss of control of the Temple Mount. But even the infiltrator doesn’t know the full scope of the terrorists’ plans; they’re preparing a strike much greater than he envisions–one that could split the fault line into total war. As Pike and Jennifer explore the Old City with their Israeli friends, neither the terrorists nor the infiltrator remember one immutable truth: In war, the enemy gets a vote.
Before publishing his first thriller, Pike Logan had already been brewing in Brad Taylor’s mind for a number of years. He didn’t have a name or a face, but his adventures were kicking around for most of his adult life. They finally came out in the form of new series and we are glad they did.