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Reaction: One Rough Man by Brad Taylor

One Rough Man by Brad Taylor is the first novel in the Pike Logan series (I reviewed the prequel short story). The synopsis from Amazon is below:

Commissioned at the highest level of the U.S. government, the fighting team known as Taskforce operates outside the law. Pike Logan was the most successful operator on the Taskforce until tragedy permanently altered his outlook. Pike knows what the rest of the country might not want to admit: the real threat is one or two men in possession of a powerful weapon. Buried in a stack of intercepted chatter is evidence of two such men-their attack only days away. It is their bad luck that they're about to cross paths with Pike Logan...

I actually finished this book 2 weeks ago, so some of the details are beginning to fade as I have read 2 more books since then. But I wanted to at least mention this book on the blog, because I liked it a lot. It sounds like your typical espionage thriller, and after reading I would agree with that assessment. But don't let that deter was one of my favorite thriller/espionage reads of the year. In a lot (most) of these series, the hero is a guy/gal who has suffered some trauma in the past. Quite often, it seems like the hero lost a spouse, a child, something of that sort. Usually, whatever that life-changing event is, occurs prior to the book. So even in book 1 of a series, any reference to the event is cryptic early on, in a effort to build the character as the novel progresses. Sometimes, several books in, the author might jump back in time to write a novel based on the life changing event. What I really liked about the first Pike novel is that this event happens within the book, in the first quarter of the story. To me, it makes a huge difference, and it was nice to live with Pike through the event, to see how it truly impacted him and how it changed him (it sure beats flashbacks telling us how he was affected). I can see how it can be a gamble for the author, because it takes the hero character through a dark time. Usually in the beginning novel of a series, the author is spending time building up the resume and likability of the hero..not putting him through an emotional ringer. While it did make it difficult at times to truly love Logan as a hero in the first 2/3 of the book, I did sympathize with him and grew attached to him because of his tough situation. For me, at least, I think it helped me form a truer bond with Pike than I would have otherwise. I've seen some reviews complain about the lack of character development in this novel, but I could find no evidence of it. I thought all of the characters were well done..not just Pike. The story was great, and the quick chapters helped keep the pace high.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Pike and the novel as a whole. After just one novel, Pike has become one of my favorite (current) espionage heroes. If you are an espionage fan, I definitely recommend checking this one out. Now I have my fingers crossed that Pike doesn't suffer from a 2nd book letdown. There are currently 2 Pike novels, with 2 more Pike books coming in 2013: Enemy of Mine (Jan), and The Widow's Strike (July)

Grade: A+ (yep, that's right. Not just an A, but an A+)

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