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Book review: <i>No Fortunate Son</i> by Brad Taylor

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the cover of the book

Pike Logan has no official resources, no time, and no information – and his friend’s niece is missing, along with the vice-president’s son. Can Pike find one or both of them before it’s too late?

The story

Pike and Jennifer officially work for a small archaeological recovery firm, but are unofficially contracted out to the Taskforce: a top secret US special forces unit. After Pike’s last mission, where he took matters into his own hands, he and Jennifer have been de-commissioned for insubordination. Pike’s contact in the government, Kurt Hale, has done what he can, but it seems Pike’s government days are over.

Pike wants Kurt to stay focussed on getting him back in to the Taskforce; Pike is the best at what he does and everyone knows it. He suspects intervention from forces in the government who don't like him. But Kurt is distracted, and rightfully so; the children of a selection of important people have gone missing, including Nicholas Seacrest, the son of the US vice-president. The Taskforce have to move, but the government realise any mistake could cost the Taskforce its anonymity and therefore its existence. All signs are pointing to an Islamic group being responsible for the kidnappings, but Kurt feels as though something is off. Kurt isn't allowed to get Pike involved, but instead sends Pike on a personal and seemingly unrelated mission: Kurt's niece Kylie has gone missing from her University exchange.

Pike and Jennifer investigate the disappearance of Kylie, but it's looking more and more as though she was unwittingly caught up in the kidnappings. Kurt authorises Pike to dig deeper, while the Taskforce follow other leads. As Pike gets closer he realises that the situation is big, complex, and risks civilian lives, but Kurt can't authorise backup for Pike and Jennifer. Can the two of them single-handedly foil a complex terrorist plot and get the kidnapped kids back while the rest of the Taskforce chase after red herrings?

The style

I've never read Brad Taylor before, and I feel as though this is a real gap in my reading. The terrorist/government thriller isn't really my genre, I mean, I read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and figured after Le Carre, what was the point of reading anything else in that genre? I've also found that when I do venture into the political thriller genre in general, contemporary thrillers tend to be too textbook, all very similar, and all a bit too macho to keep my interest. Because, you know, political thrilling is a man's game. So I tend to steer clear.

But Brad Taylor, you've won my heart. I think it's probably all in the style. Taylor is ex military himself, so speaks his bio, and previously I've found such authors to be lacking in humour and a bit too desperate to convince the reader about how awesome they are. Brad Taylor is clearly legitimately awesome, as well as being a natural at writing. His style is clear and evocative, he knows how to play with suspense, he keeps a lot of balls in the air character-wise, and most importantly, he's got a quiet, sort of playful humour infused through the plot. It's not a comedy or anything, but he knows when observational humour is called for because of the thrilling. Also, I appreciated a couple of strong female characters throughout the story, and the observations of sexism and gender inequality in the workplace were there, but not tired.

Also, story-line wise, the plot was a corker. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much if Taylor didn't have such a way with words, but it was suspense filled and also pretty complex, certainly not just-your-average modern Tom Clancy. I finished No Fortunate Son in record time and was disappointed when it finished.

Who is this book for?

Do you like that tv show Chris Ryan's Strike Back? This is just as extreme, but better. Do yourself a favour and have a read.

If you like this book, you would also like...

So turns out (pardon my ignorance) that Brad Taylor has written OTHER BOOKS STARRING THE CHARACTER PIKE. I know what I'm buying on Amazon before I go to Sydney next week.

In short

Title: No Fortunate Son
Author: Brad Taylor
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN: 978-0525953999
Year published: 2014
Pages: 416
Genre(s): Thriller, Political
Review Type: