A Pike Logan, Taskforce Short Story by Brad Taylor
Review: In a prequel to the series of thrillers featuring US special forces operative Pike Logan, The Callsign is a short story that outlines how his team — the Taskforce — came into being.
Logan is doing a series of dry runs in Charleston, South Carolina, breaking into businesses, extracting a piece of equipment or other tangible item, and exiting, all without drawing the attention of the authorities. Built into the exercises are real people, though he doesn't know if who he comes across is a plant or simply an innocent party that inadvertently happened to enter the scene of the operation. Logan is familiar with most members of his team, but has his doubts about Kranz, his designated — and "know-it-all" — second-in-command. Kranz is CIA, someone who "had apparently seen more Jason Bourne-type action than Matt Damon himself". The exercise ends without anyone being caught, but Logan is furious that Kranz jeopardized the success of the team. Logan takes it up with his superior, who ultimately decides to keep the team intact. A second test exercise differs little from the first.
The real mission is to extract a computer from a forger in Yemen, someone who probably has no particular political agenda but works for whoever pays him the most. And that would be, at present, al-Qaeda. The computer no doubt has names, addresses, and other information that would be useful to the US. The go-ahead is given to proceed with the operation, but while Logan and his men are in Yemen, the team is again compromised when Kranz deviates from the script, causing Logan to make a tough call.
The Callsign doesn't work all that well as a stand-alone story, but then again, it probably wasn't written to be such. Readers unfamiliar with the premise of the Pike Logan thrillers will likely not appreciate — or maybe even understand — what's going on … and possibly more importantly, why it's going on. The action sequences are credibly written and there's no denying the edge-of-the-seat-style tension when the team is in the middle of their operation, whether it be simulated or real. But the storyline itself is fairly weak, and ends abruptly. Still, the intent is likely to either entice new readers to try the books in the series or to provide existing fans a bit of backstory … in which case, The Callsign works just fine.
Note: A preview of the next in the series, Enemy of Mine (Dutton, January 2013), is included with this short story, and is not part of this review.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided an eARC of The Callsign for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Callsign: Charleston, South Carolina; Yemen
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The Callsign by Brad Taylor — A Pike Logan, Taskforce Short Story
Publication Date: November 2012
List Price: $1.99