“Ring of Fire: A Pike Logan Thriller” by Brad Taylor (Dutton, 456 pages, $27)
Under the guise of action-adventure, Brad Taylor continues to tackle one of the pressing fears of today – terrorism. The plots and the characters are fictional, but Taylor’s meticulous research brings that sense of chilling believability to his Pike Logan thrillers, the latest of which is “Ring of Fire.”
Pike and his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Cahill, are part of a top-secret unit called the Taskforce, created to stop terrorist plots and global threats.
In his 11th exciting outing, Pike and his team are looking into the leak of the confidential offshore-banking Panama Papers, which, among other secrets, may expose a shell company that has been financing terrorism and is tied to an American defense contractor. Unless Pike and his team act fast, the Taskforce also may be revealed.
The investigation has the team hop-scotching the world following the money, leading Pike and colleagues to a wealthy Saudi businessman’s plans – called Ring of Fire – to disable America’s shipping industry, timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The Taskforce also is on the trail of a Somali-American sleeper-cell drone pilot and a lethal South African mercenary.
The action in “Ring of Fire” is nonstop. Pike and his team are extremely good at their jobs, but Taylor is careful never to make them super-heroes. Yes, they have radical skills at surveillance, martial arts and weaponry, but they also make mistakes and sometimes miss their targets by seconds. Taylor uses these moments to ramp up the suspense.
While intense action is a hallmark of Taylor’s series, the well-developed characters are realistically explored. Pike’s prowess is matched by his insight. Pike is not a sentimental man, and at times he can be a bit too arrogant. But he also believes in what he is doing — readers will be glad that Pike is on the side of the U.S. Pike is well matched in every way by Jennifer, whose physical and mental strength continue to be an asset.
A former Delta Force commander, Taylor has a reputation of in-depth research to add realism to his plots. For “Ring of Fire,” Taylor cites the 9/11 Commission Report, the Congressional Joint Inquiry Report and reporting done by the Florida Bulldog, an investigative news site based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Taylor delivers a high-energy thriller in “Ring of Fire.”