Ring of Fire: A Pike Logan Thriller
Brad Taylor writes books as frightening as you are likely to encounter. His field of expertise is not the supernatural; rather, he is very much concerned with the here and now of threats to the United States at home and abroad. Taylor brings more than expertise and knowledge to the table in his Pike Logan thrillers. While those twin sisters are important, having been acquired during the course of over two decades in the service of US Army Special Forces, Taylor’s considerable skill set also includes the ability to observe data, understand what he is seeing and extrapolate it. It seems, time after time, that the threat Pike Logan encounters in his latest novel has either just manifested itself or is about to in our own world, a state of affairs that makes the reader wish and hope that a real-world Logan is out there somewhere, quietly but effectively doing the job of taking down terrorists.
This is particularly true in RING OF FIRE, the newest installment in the series, which takes place over the course of several days in the run-up to the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. As the fateful date approaches, one of the financial masterminds behind the attacks broods and reflects not so much on what was accomplished on that horrible day but on what was meant to be accomplished. He accordingly plots and then begins to execute a series of attacks on America’s overseas shipping. The Taskforce gets wind of the plot, indirectly through a document dump that reveals a tie between an American company and a bank account through which the original 9/11 attacks were financed. Logan and his team are tasked with tracing the account back to its source, and in the course of doing so discern that there is something much larger going on.
"If, after reading RING OF FIRE, you experience some additional anxiety when stuck in traffic, you can forgive yourself. But you won’t forgive yourself if you miss this latest Pike Logan thriller."
Meanwhile, the head of the corporation tied to the bank account takes his own steps to keep anyone from discovering his own complicity, however unintentional, in the occurrence of the original attacks. The result is that Logan and the Taskforce, unbeknownst to them, have an occasional ally as they race to determine who is going to do what to the United States interests, and where. It isn’t easy. While Logan’s team collectively is a veritable Swiss Army knife of skills, they don’t always function entirely smoothly and blood is occasionally and (usually) figuratively drawn when a sharp elbow is thrown.
Furthermore, Logan and the Taskforce have some differences in management style --- call them office vs. field --- and Logan, who displays a working knowledge of the maxim that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission, often finds himself called upon a well-worn carpet, even as the Taskforce does as well, given that it has people further up the chain of command to answer to when it rubs against the edges of its extra-legal charter. As with most tasks, things work out in spite of the rules rather than because of them, but the suspense that is built along the way reaches new levels by the time RING OF FIRE comes to a close.
A good portion of what occurs here is initiated by the release of the Panama Papers. If you missed the leakage of those documents in April 2016, you can forgive yourself, given that most of us --- and particularly the chattering classes --- were focused on the upcoming election. It is unfortunate that more attention wasn’t devoted to the revelations contained in this very extensive and extremely interesting document dump, and certainly a reading of this book will and should incite new and intense interest in this. Taylor, as always, rings quite true. The terrorist attacks that are initiated with some great degree of success here are so well-described that on reading about them, one wonders not so much if they could be carried out but why they haven’t been thus far.
If, after reading RING OF FIRE, you experience some additional anxiety when stuck in traffic, you can forgive yourself. But you won’t forgive yourself if you miss this latest Pike Logan thriller.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 11, 2017