Ghosts Of War by
Brad Taylor blends humor, action, and history. Anyone who
was a fan of the late legendary thriller author Vince Flynn
should read Taylor, the heir apparent to the Mitch Rapp series
with his Pike Logan books. The realistic scenarios, technology,
and military operations keep the plot moving and insightful.
Asked about the humorous scenes the author responded, “Maybe
because I am a smart aleck. While writing something might
strike me as funny so I put it in the book. Regarding the
believability, I make sure I always go back and answer every
question. For example, when writing scene x I think why wouldn’t
they just call the police? Another example, I can have Pike
driving a car, reach for something and swerve into another
lane. But, if I put that scene into the story people will
say ‘how convenient.’ I always think of a good
explanation for why the characters do what they do. I actually
become a reader since every 100 pages I go back and reread
the story to make sure nothing jumps out.”
He is also able to use his experiences to enhance the story.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army infantry,
he served for twenty-one years, retiring as a Special Forces
Lt. Colonel. While in the Delta unit he conducted operations
in support of US national interests in Iraq, Afghanistan,
and other classified locations.
This story begins with Pike and Company sidelined because
the Taskforce, an illegal off the books group, has been put
on hold. While on stand down, two Israeli contractors, Shoshana
and Aaron, hire Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill to help find
hidden items stolen by the Nazis. This part of the book uses
history to formulate the fictional scenes as the heroes struggle
to attain an ancient Torah. The backstory about the Nazi gold
trains explained how the Jewish people were stripped of everything
valuable: gold, paintings, wedding rings, and ancient artifacts
while they were loaded into cattle cars.
Meanwhile Russia is trying to expand its influence under the
guise of fighting terrorism by moving into Belaurs, a country
in Eastern Europe on its border. Russian President Putin uses
oligarchs and thugs, the Night Wolves, to create a diversion.
Having an agenda of their own, they attempt to create a scenario
that will cause World War III between the US and Russia that
includes shooting down an American aircraft. With time running
out, and America demanding vengeance, Pike and his partner
Jennifer enlist the Israelis to help them race to unravel
who is involved before a point of no return is reached.
Fast checking this story: the Night Wolves are an actual motorcycle
organization, thugs who work for Putin to stop any protests.
Putin is trying to leverage countries for their natural resources.
Unfortunately, many of the countries in Russia’s sphere
of influence can by taken over without any risk of war, since
NATO troops have been depleted. The main antagonist Simon
Migonuv is based on a Russian oligarch, the head of a crime
syndicate, influential in running the gas pipelines, who is
on the FBI’s most wanted list, and has a passport from
Israel. Regarding the Nazi gold trains, Taylor noted when
he was in Poland doing the research he actually saw these
tunnels that he speculates could have possibly been used to
build super weapons.
All of Taylor’s books have a reoccurring realistic theme
of how US policy is determined by politics while citizens’
lives sometimes take a back seat. Quotes reflect this opinion
such as when the taskforce commander, Kurt Hale states, “Politics
trumps security every time,” and “Ignore what
the damn politicians say. You’re the president now.
Not a member of a political party.”
He explained, “The world is not black and white. During
the crisis with Apollo 13 the effort was made to save three
lives. Yet, if an individual hostage is taken as in the case
in Syria there might be no effort to get them back, especially
if it means risking war.”
As the series progresses so does Taylor’s character
development. He explores the relationship between Jennifer
and Pike, as well as between Shoshana and Aaron. Beyond that
readers begin to understand that Jennifer is more comfortable
in her Taskforce role and that Shoshana’s backstory
has created the person she is today. These scenes are interesting,
emotional, and sometimes funny as the characters banter lightens
Taylor commented, “I was going to kill Shoshana and
Aaron in the first book they appeared in, but I liked them
so much I decided to keep them alive. In this book we understand
why Shoshana was broken from day one. She looks up to Pike
and Jennifer and in many ways wants to emulate them as she
searches to find her way. She admires Jennifer for her moral
compass and feels that Pike is a brother to her. Although
Shoshana and Aaron will not be in my next book, Ring of
Fire, out in January, they will be the subjects of the
short story, The Target, out next year.”
Ghosts Of War is action packed, fast-paced, and gripping.
With each book readers get to know more of the characters’
personalities, making the story more enjoyable to read. Not
only will people have a riveting story, well-developed characters,
some historical background, but will also enjoy Taylor’s
pop culture references.