Walker’s Library & Reading Diary Fiction: Thrillers, Crime and Espionage

Posted on October 6, 2018. Filed under: The Walker Library |



  1. Mysteries/Thrillers Brad Taylor
  2. Brad Taylor, One Rough Man, (the Pike Logan series). Dutton: New York, 2011 (553pp.) Read 02-11-17 to 02-13-17. Outstanding! I have long hesitated to branch out from Sci-Fi back into the Political/Spec Ops/Thriller genre. Long ago I read Ludlum’s Bourne series and before that several Tom Clancy novels. Those were great. Now, I am instantly addicted to Brad Taylor. This book was like crack to me; I couldn’t put it down; from the very first page.
  3. All Necessary Force, (Pike Logan) Dutton: New York, 2012 (545pp.) Read 03-13-17 to 03-16-17, Outstanding! I am definitely a Brad Taylor addict now. This second volume in the Pike Logan series further develops the main characters and introduces the beginnings of a romance. The training sequences he begins with are….terrifying….and presumably quite realistic. Sheesh…The political intrigues sound very realistic…and cynical. The action is excellent and the personal introspections are also quite believable. Taylor is not afraid to kill off good guys in the course of the story. The plots within plots demonstrate how connected the world of evil is.
  4. Enemy of Mine, (Pike Logan) Dutton: New York, 2013 (514pp.) Read 06-02-17 to 06-03-17. Outstanding! This was a rougher read because of two scenes that I cannot give away. However, it does clear up and settle one situation from the first novel in a satisfying way, though also disturbing. Psychologically, Taylor delves deep into the abyss of the good guys who have to do horrible things. When they step across the line….give them grace of an official lie and a wink. Disturbing, but realistic and…satisfying.
  5. The Widow’s Strike, (Pike Logan) Dutton: NY 2013 (498pp.) Read 07-15-17 to 07-18-17. Outstanding! This is truly terrifying stuff! It is exceptionally realistic. Here we are looking at Islamic bioterror. We see continued character development in several of the key characters and the very slow moving romance between Pike and Jennifer finally reach a defining stage. I save these novels for when I have to work an all-night shift, guaranteed to keep me awake.
  6. The Polaris Protocol. Signet Select: New York, 2014 (534pp.) Read 10-22-17 to 10-29-17, Outstanding! Taylor combines three threats in one story with this outstanding novel. There is the Internal Threat of a national defense worker who wants to sabotage the “system”. There is the Mexican drug cartel threat and then the muslim threat. All three come together for an action packed, high tech thriller. The character development continues as Pike and Jennifer have to figure out their relationship as a part of their team. The team of politicians who overwatch the team must press the boundaries by allowing the team to operate in the US and in Mexico without a clear cut mission. Taylor is a master at forcing us to look at the boundaries and weigh the costs of safety and freedom.
  7. Days of Rage. 2014. Read 11-30-17 to 12-08-17, Outstanding! Russians, Nigerians and Israelis are all involved in this thriller, with a deep cover agent from the KGB thrown in. Brad Taylor continues the Pike Logan saga.
  8. No Fortunate Son. 2015. Read 12-24-17 to 12-26-17, Outstanding! The author continues the story line of Pike Logan and Jennifer and finds new ways to develop their characters. But the other main theme that he keeps hammering on is how difficult it is to operate within the Constitution with the multiple threats from terrorists. Indeed, it seems that Brad Taylor, ex-Delta Force, is calling for a counter-terror unit that has the freedom to do what is needed, shredding the Constitution in order to defend it. That is the conundrum of the modern battlefield.
  9. The Insider Threat. New York: Dutton, 2015, (514pp.) Read 02-23-18 to 03-01-18, Outstanding! In this Pike Logan thriller, author Brad Taylor deals with the issue of Americans who join ISIS and participate in a Terror Plot. Taylor very solidly shows us that ISIS is engaged in a Religious war with Religious targets whether we want to acknowledge this or not. Also, he shows us that not everyone who joins ISIS is religious. Some just like to kill. The book continues building the backgrounds and character of key people, including some new characters from a previous novel who he brings back for an encore, and who I hope he keeps. What is the value of these types of books for the average person and even for the Christian? It keeps us aware that evil is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour whom it may, and that there are strong men and women who are committed to defending the innocent from the lions. We should not shelter ourselves so strongly that we become naïve sheep, but neither can we become so fretful that we are paralyzed by fear.
  10. The Forgotten Soldier. New York: Dutton, 2016 (464pp.) Read 05-05-18 to 05-07-18, Outstanding! This is a very thoughtful, introspective thriller that delves into the psychology of the Operator who goes through a crisis, and dives into the dark side. This is a continuing theme in Taylor’s books, which reveals some of what he went through personally as a soldier and operator I believe. He continues to show the agony of leadership in the nation’s top leaders who have to violate the Constitution in order to preserve lives. And it shows the cynicism of those same leaders. In this book you see two new team members brought in and the conflicts they personally must deal with as they become members of the Task Force. Highly recommend.
  11. Ghosts of War. New York: Dutton, 2016 (447pp.) Read 08-24-18 to 08-30-18, Outstanding! Brad Taylor continues the Pike Logan series with a book about how WWIII could possibly start using the dynamics of internal Russian politics and crime. Not since Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising have I read a book that gives this kind of a plausible start to World War III. The character development continues with the now major characters Aaron and Shoshana. I was predicting the death of Shoshana in the early chapters of this book but…Taylor changed course on me in a surprising way; now there is hope for this deadly woman assassin. It was fascinating to read Taylor’s take on Vladimir Putin. Basically he calls out Putin as the mobster he is. Starting the book with the assassination of President Warren who has been in so many of Taylor’s books was a cruel shot, but a good author cannot be afraid to kill off key characters when you are writing about war and terror.


  1. Espionage Thriller, A.J. Tata
  2. Foreign and Domestic. New York: Kensington Publishing, 2015 (458pp.) Read 02-02-18 to 02-08-18, Very Good! If Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan is top of the line at and A+, then AJ Tata comes in at about an A-, still Very Good, just shy of outstanding. So what is the difference? The plot line in this work by Tata is just a bit too Hollywooded up for me, a bit too much action. The basic character, Cpt. Jake Mahegan, is just not quite as “real” as Pike Logan, but still quite good. As far as the series goes, this looks like a very strong beginning and it has lots of potential. The plot twists are strong and keep you on the edge of your seat.
  3. Crime/Detective Thriller, C.J. Box, “Joe Pickett” novels
  4. Open Season. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001 (289pp.) Read 07-22-17 to 07-25-17. Outstanding! Heard about this author on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, read the 1st in the series and am now hooked! The plot is solid and the setting is very real and believable. Joe Pickett and the other characters have depth and complexity that is above and beyond most novels. This is a good vs. evil story line that keeps me turning the pages; hard to put down. There were only a few holes in the story. One is that Joe and his wife talk about how tight their finances are, and their credit card is maxed out, yet he is able to buy another gun when the need arises. Another plot failure/inconsistency is that he keeps his daughter’s pets at the end. But it adds a level of cuteness to the story. This is a minor detail… His use of small children as part of the story is outstanding and even the two children who die and the one that is fostered really adds to the depth of the story and characterization. This series is a definite keeper and should be a movie!
  5. Savage Run. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002 (304pp.) Read 08-12-17 to 08-15-17, Outstanding! A very believable plot that makes this a real page turner! I am hooked. The characterization gets deeper and we see more depth to the Pickett family. The clear tie-ins with the first novel are good.
  6. Berkley Books, New York, 2003 (338pp.) 10-09-17 to 10-12-17, Outstanding! I am really enjoying the Joe Pickett series! The believable plots, the character development of Pickett and family, the action, the wildlife/scenery, and the snippits of family life all make this an outstanding series. The novels do ties together nicely. This story has and awful sad part to it that was amazing…not many authors would do this I think. There is a Dark Side to things as well, and this story brings that out. There is a subtle anti-government twist to all of his novels it seems, a plot within a plot.
  7. Trophy Hunt. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 2004 (375pp.) Read 11-14-17 to 11-17-17. Outstanding! Another great read from CJ Box in the Joe Pickett series. Box took a couple of twists in this book by bringing in a bit of the supernatural as a part of his mystery/crime novel. The character development of Joe Pickett and his wife and family continues. This story exposes the fact that there are indeed wacko nut jobs out there who are crazy evil, and there are people who on the outside appear to be “nice” but who are wearing a mask and are warped.
  8. Out of Range. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005 (333pp.) Read 02-20-18 to 02-23-18, Outstanding! The emphasis in this story has switched to the relationship between Joe Pickett and his wife, Marybeth. There is still a crime story, a murder mystery, a wild west shootout and a bizarre plot on Joe’s life, but the real story is what is going on in Joe’s family. CJ Box does Not disappoint!
  9. In Plain Sight, by C.J. Box. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007, (309pp.) Read 04-13-18 to 04-17, Outstanding! This story takes some serious twists and turns bringing back characters from previous novels and seemingly ending Joe’s innocence and creating a life changing situation. As character development goes, this novel takes a dramatic leap, but an understandable leap. As always CJ Box involves the family in crucial details and plot twists. This story reveals the sickness of some family feuds as well as the mind of a sociopathic killer. Revenge may be the theme here, all the way around. Like the previous novel, Out of Range, there is another theme of “sometimes you just gotta kill somebody”.
  10. Free Fire, by C.J. Box. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007 (394pp.) Read 09-27-18 to 10-02-18, Outstanding! I just do not get tired of reading about Joe Pickett! This story adds a weird national twist to the Pickett crime solving process and brings up some of Pickett’s past and present family issues from two different directions. Pickett gets used in this story and that part of it is left unresolved. And what about Nate? Voof…a couple of issues left in doubt at the end of this one. The perfect crime committed by an imperfect criminal…who has a bad ending. Wonderful Wyoming geography and history of Yellowstone.
  11. Crime/Detective Thriller, Lee Child, “Jack Reacher” novels
  12. Killing Floor. New York: Jove Books, 1997 (524pp.) Read 07-27-17 to 07-29-17. Very Good! I knew that there were a couple of movies out about this series so I thought I would expand my reading horizons and give it a try. I am now hooked! I enjoyed the brief biography of Lee Childs at the start of this 1st book in the series as it tells how the series got started. I do think he needs to give some credit to Don Pendleton and the Mack Bolan series because the similarities are too close for it to be an accident. Bolan and Reacher are both ex-Army and acquired their “skills”. Both of their families are dead, and died tragically. The deaths of their families are what brings them into a “crime fighting” career. Both men operate outside of or underneath the Law but with some cooperation with the Lawmen. Both men use the Desert Eagle .44 Auto Mag. The killing scenes by “mobsters” are very brutal and graphic in both. Both men are incredible shots. Yeah, Lee Child borrowed from Pendleton a LOT, but, his novels are 3-4 times the length of Pendleton’s and the plot is much richer and the characterization is much deeper. However, that being said, Child gets a LOT wrong about his man Jack Reacher, and he gets it wrong because Child is a Brit, not an American, and he never served in the Army. (This is why Brad Taylor and his Pike Logan series is masterful- Taylor is Spec. Ops veteran and gets the details right). Child has Reacher being the child of a Marine, yet he goes to West Point and serve in the Army for 15 years. In the bio background of Reacher he has Reacher’s father and Reacher himself moving too much and serving in a lot of places that do not make sense for either a Marine or a Soldier. Furthermore, the character of Reacher absolutely does NOT match that of any West Pointer I ever knew, or of any other Officer I knew. Reacher’s character is closer to Mack Bolan who was a Green Beret NCO. Child has Reacher knowing and experiencing way too much for a Major in the Military Police. It simply isn’t like that. DESPITE all the flaws in the character and the background, the story works, the book was a page turner, and I am hooked! I will continue on in the series for sure!
  13. Die Trying. Lee Child. New York: Jove Books, 1998 (552pp.) Read 08-01-17 to 08-03-17, Very Good! The second volume in the Jack Reacher corpus has Reacher miraculously in the right place at the right time to accidently get involved in a kidnapping of an FBI agent that leads to uncovering a big plot by a racist militia group. The book is another real page turner with lots of action and the character development of Reacher is strong. There are some interesting twists and turns in the plot that keep your attention throughout! However, it now is apparent to me that Lee Child knows Nothing about the US military, he does NOT take the time seriously study the subject. Nonetheless, it is a strong, entertaining series that pits good guy against bad guys, very bad guys.
  14. Lee Child. New York: Berkley Books, 1999 (401pp.) Read 09-04-17 to 09-06-17. This is the third volume in the Jack Reacher series and, as usual, is a real page turner and succeeds in keeping me awake. The story is an interesting take on the Viet Nam War and the heartache of some of the families whose loved ones did not come home and remain MIA. The book portrays an overall positive view of the American military. The suspense is intense. However, Lee Child knows very little about the military and gets so many things wrong I could not list them here, and this is irritating. There is some disturbing moral issues here as well as the author has the main character going back in time to when he “lusted after” a young teenage girl, the daughter of his commander. That got weird.
  15. Running Blind. New York: Jove Books, 2000/2001 (498pp.) Read 09-07-17 to 09-09-17. 4 of the Jack Reacher series and is still a very fun series, though, again, he gets so much wrong about the military it is Not funny. The book works, however, even though there are a few holes in this plot. I guess I will continue the series as it entertains and keeps me awake at work.

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