"Enemy of Mine" by Brad Taylor (Dutton, $26.95)
Brad Taylor is a University of Texas graduate who served more than 21 years in the Army, retiring as a special forces lieutenant colonel. He spent eight of those years commanding troops in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta in Iraq, Afghanistan and other classified locations. In short, he knows first-hand the subject matter he's chosen to write about.
"Enemy of Mine" is the third book in the Pike Logan espionage series. Logan and his partner Jennifer Cahill are deployed to pursue a devious assassin through the Middle East who's been sent to kill an American envoy assigned to solidify an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.
The assassin's trail through this war-torn region is anything but clear. Logan's team is forced to deal with terrorist groups, independent killers and undependable allies. They ultimately face their biggest challenge of all, a treacherous American citizen harboring a secret not simply detrimental to Logan's task force but lethal to the United States.
We warn you that some scenes are very graphic and not for the faint of heart. A special task force's world is one of hardened people contending with committed criminals who are also irrational fanatics. As Taylor's hero puts it, "I am not the killer man; I'm the killer man's son; but I'll do the killing until the killer man comes."
Taylor is writing about a world he's lived in and experienced for a large portion of his adult life. Pike Logan is, he says, a character conceived in his active duty years. "I didn't have a name or a face, but he had energy." When Brad Taylor, a man unaccustomed to inactivity, finally found some time on his hands as an ROTC instructor, Logan took form.
Taylor says he told his wife when they were dating that he had two primary goals in life: first, to serve in the special services and second, become a writer. Only 20 years later was his second objective achieved. He adds that after his first night of serious writing he told his wife, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I can write. The bad news is it took three hours to get out one paragraph." That one paragraph was worth waiting for. It evolved into two New York Times bestsellers and no doubt a third Pike Logan book. This second one is a page turner very relevant to today's volatile world.
-- Reviewed by David and Nancy Beckwith
"Slipping the Cable" by Bill Schweigart (Martin Sisters Publishing, $14)
Bill Schweigart is a former Coast Guard officer who currently works for the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Infrastructure Protection in Arlington, Va.
His new novel follows Kelly Sensor, the Coast Guard cutter Sentinel's newest junior, as he navigates the ship's political structure dominated by the vengeful Capt. Aregood. Their battle of wills escalates until Sensor escapes to Key West, where paradise quickly becomes a dead end as the captain pursues him.
"The story's beating heart is Key West," says the author. When asked how this story first hit him, he insists it was most likely while he was seasick. "Being at sea is incredible until conditions make you wish you were somewhere else."
Schweigart is now working on another novel, "The Beast of Barcroft," a story about a wooded Washington, D.C., suburb being attacked by "something."
-- Mark Howell
"A Matter of Logistics" by William R. Burkett, Jr., AbsolutelyAmazingEbooks.com, two volumes, $3.99 each)
This two-part novel is an epic story of outcasts from Earth who return to reclaim the planet in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game that might lead to the destruction of life as we know it.
"I was very happy with my story," recalls Burkett, "and sent it to John W. Campbell Jr. at Analog as soon as I got home from the army in 1967.
"Campbell rejected it with a voluminous letter describing all the questions that I'd raised but left unanswered, and told me he'd buy the book he knew it could become. I'd intentionally left out a lot of that stuff, trying to adapt a science fiction tale to Hemingway's theory that you could leave anything out if you knew you'd left it out and the reader would sense it and have a strong emotional response.
"Campbell told him about a peg-legged sailor beloved by the children of the town who had a story for every occasion -- except one about what happened to his leg. When asked outright what happened to his vanished appendage, he snapped, 'It was bit off!'
"It took me a long, long time to see the justice of Campbell's remarks and return to the story (and he never lived to see it) but once I began to explore the themes implied in the original work the story just grew and grew. The name of that story was 'A Matter of Logistics' and now it's in two volumes!"
-- Shirrel Rhoades