The Pike Logan novels have taken readers to a dizzying array of exotic and faraway locales throughout the course of the first four books in the series. THE POLARIS PROTOCOL, the fifth and latest installment, deviates from that formula just a bit. The majority of the action unfolds in North America, with the climax and denouement taking place in the United States. Author Brad Taylor does not eschew the exotic location element of the story, setting much of it within the dangerous confines of Ciudad Juarez, giving his readers a boots-on-the-ground view of the lawless streets of that particular city through the eyes of Logan and the off-the-books Grolier Recovery Services team. As fans have come to expect, the author tops himself yet again.
"Taylor’s trademark action scenes and spycraft descriptions move the narrative along at breakneck speed, resulting in a rapidly moving page-turner of a book that no doubt will bring Taylor and his creations new fans while solidifying his reputation among those who have been along on this wild ride since the beginning."
Taylor gets things rolling along twin tracks in very short order. After an introduction that hints at the terror to come, he puts the reader with the team in the middle of a mission in Turkmenistan, where the rules, such as they are, change on a whim. Grolier, ostensibly assisting a team examining a potential site for an archaeological dig, is involved in an opening gambit to track a wealthy Saudi, suspected of funding terrorists, to his lair. Meanwhile, over on the other track, Jack Cahill, brother of Grolier Taskforce member Jennifer Cahill, is in a world of hurt. Jack, a freelance journalist, is eavesdropping on a conversation in a seedy motel in El Paso, Texas, when things take a sudden turn, and he is captured and abducted. His efforts to call his editor for help only result in his accidentally dialing his sister instead.
Jennifer wants to utilize the might and majesty of Grolier, and the power behind it, to rescue Jack. Logan is reluctant to do so, having some trouble separating the professional and the personal where Jennifer is concerned. It is soon demonstrated, though, that Jennifer has good reason to be worried. Jack originally thought that the people who were the targets of his eavesdropping were involved with a Mexican drug cartel. But what they are planning is far worse than any drug run. One of the cartels is making a move to purchase a system that will disrupt the United States GPS network. As Taylor meticulously demonstrates here, GPS does far more than guide motorists from Point A to Point B. The system is so deeply ingrained in our daily lives and military hardware that any disruption for even a few minutes would be disastrous. The developer of the disruptive system is a software genius who has traitorous delusions of grandeur, but who is in far over his head, not only with the representatives of the drug cartel but also with the real potential buyers who have a far more nefarious use for the system.
Grolier finds itself tasked with finding Jack and retrieving the system. Time is of the essence, and not just because Jack’s life is in danger. A top-secret military strike is planned, one that is totally reliant upon GPS to make it work. Logan concocts a seemingly insane scheme to accomplish his mission. If he succeeds, he’ll be a hero...but failure could well mean the end of Grolier.
The information regarding the importance of GPS and the way it works makes the book worth reading all by itself. Taylor’s trademark action scenes and spycraft descriptions move the narrative along at breakneck speed, resulting in a rapidly moving page-turner of a book that no doubt will bring Taylor and his creations new fans while solidifying his reputation among those who have been along on this wild ride since the beginning. With THE POLARIS PROTOCOL, fans of military and espionage thrillers have a new reason to rejoice.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 17, 2014