Between the Lines: Brad Taylor

Has Pike Logan Met His Match?

By Austin S. Camacho

My favorite military thrillers follow fictional but realistic and authentic adventures of top-notch operators. To see the best of the best in action, you’ll want to follow Pike Logan’s adventures—and in the latest, HUNTER KILLER, author Brad Taylor proves he’s at the top of his game.

The previous dozen novels in this series have shown Pike Logan and the Taskforce to be unmatched at hunting and destroying America’s enemies. But in HUNTER KILLER, they may have met their match.

At the start of the novel, Logan and Jennifer Cahill are planning to join their team on a counter-terrorist mission in South America. But they’re attacked before they can leave Charleston. A friend is killed in the explosion, but the attack was clearly meant for Logan.

Logan is a hero, but Taylor says he doesn’t consider himself one.

“I suppose a true hero would execute Taskforce missions even if he or she hated it solely out of duty to a greater good,” Taylor says, “but that’s not Pike. Like real life, there are many conflicting and complementary aspects that drive him to continue working for the Taskforce, but the idea of being a hero isn’t one of them.”

A young Taylor in uniform.

In this book, Logan is headed to a very dangerous part of the world called the Triple Frontier—the three-way border region where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet. The Taskforce books are certainly character driven but, as Taylor explains, location is important.

“I’m a reader first, and one of the reasons I read is to escape my world and enter another one. Because of that, I try to capture the settings in my novels away from what the usual reader knows. Give them a bit of an escape, as it were,” he says. “Every culture is different, and every country is different, and exploring that on the page is something I strive to do. To that end, if I can get there, I most certainly do. Sometimes that’s not possible, of course. For instance, I didn’t travel to North Korea or Syria for portions of Daughter of War, but I did travel everywhere else in the novel.”

For HUNTER KILLER, there isn’t a spot in the book that Taylor hasn’t set foot upon, from the Amazon basin in the north of Brazil to Rio in the south. In this way, he can really capture the feel and texture of a scene he creates.

Of course, in this genre, the action can make or break a book. Luckily, Taylor knows how to get it right. He says the key to writing a great action sequence is balance in the description.

Lobster attack.

“Whenever ‘action’ happens in the real world—think about a close call you had in a car or another scary event—the person involved only absorbs so much, and that’s what I try to convey from the viewpoint of the narrator. I never use detail for detail’s sake. I only use enough detail to move the action forward. Sometimes that does require a little bit more exposition on hand-to-hand techniques or weapons used, but I’ll always defer to ‘less is more’ in an action sequence.”

To follow the previous metaphor, Taylor wants his readers to feel like they are in that car, not on the outside watching it all occur. In HUNTER KILLER, we join Pike and Jennifer as they head to Brazil and run into a crew of Russian assassins. They’re pulled into Brazilian politics and a fight for control of offshore oil fields. I often wonder how Taylor comes up with these story ideas. He says most of them come from news stories.

“I start every morning reading news feeds from all over the world,” Taylor says, “and I still do some small bit of security consulting as a day job, which gives me insight into what the news isn’t reporting, and something will always spark my interest. The deeper I dig into a story, the crazier it usually begins to sound. The world continues to turn relentlessly, and that’s what keeps the stories fresh. There is no end to the stories out there. All one has to do is look.”

Taylor eating ramen in Korea.

HUNTER KILLER is a bit different from the previous books in that the story moves away from state-on-state conflict to focus on private military companies working for a country but also working for profit. It follows from Daughter of War, where the corporation was a tangential part of the plot.

Taylor knows the world he writes about, the world of Special Operations. A retired Special Forces lieutenant colonel, his 20-plus year career included eight years with Delta Force, but he does not rewrite his own experiences. In fact, he points out that there is nothing in his novels that he has ever seen or done in the real world. That said, of course his experiences surface in the books.

Breaking in.

“If you were going to write a story involving a grocery store, the first thing you’d do is reflect on the last grocery store you’d shopped in,” he says. “It’s no different with my writing. If I’m writing an assault, I can’t help but think about assaults I’ve conducted in the past. On the same thread, when I’m writing about my fictional Oversight Council, I can’t help but think of national security decisions made when I was in the room.”

With that base of authenticity, Taylor is always trying to keep the stories fresh. That’s why he says he’s shifting to the Indo-Pacific theater and Chinese global ambitions next time out. He’s done research in Taiwan and Australia and is already working on Logan’s next adventure.

If you don’t want to get left behind, grab yourself a copy of HUNTER KILLER!

 

Austin Camacho
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