Brad Taylor is one of my very favorite authors, and one of the best writers in the genre today. Nobody burst onto the scene quite like him, releasing eleven bestselling novels in just over six years. His latest thriller, Operator Down, is the twelfth book in his mega-popular Pike Logan franchise and his best work to date.
In the middle of getting ready to head out for his upcoming book tour and battling the highly-televised “bomb cyclone,” Taylor was gracious enough to return once again for our Five Questions segment. . . and wait until you hear some of his answers, including an unbelievable story about how he was detained and questioned while doing research for this book!
See the Q&A below, then keep scrolling for more info about Operator Down, which hits bookstores everywhere tomorrow, Tuesday, January 9th.
TRBS: A missing Mossad agent, a military coup in Africa, relationships tested. . . There’s a ton going on in your latest action-packed thriller, Operator Down. How did you come up with the plot for this book?
Taylor: “At the outset of Operator Down, I had three goals: One, make it personal vice some world-ending terrorist attack. Two, bring back Aaron and Shoshana (just because I love them), and three, set the story somewhere I hadn’t before. From there, I started kicking ideas around that could satisfy those three parameters. I hit upon the diamond trade in Israel and the connection to the plethora of diamond mines in Africa.
“The idea of a coup began to form, but research into the usual places where blood diamonds are found, such as Sierra Leone, were definitely not locations I was looking forward to visiting. I then found the unique land of Lesotho, a country completely surrounded by South Africa, producer of some of the largest gem quality diamonds on earth, and – while relatively stable – also had a history of coups. That gave me the overarching direction, but like with all of my books, about fifty percent of the granular action on the page comes from my research trips – in this case, much more so than I wanted.
“While researching Lesotho, I was rolled up outside of the Makoanyane Military Base, home to their Special Forces, doing things the average tourist would not. I spent the next six and half hours in solitary interrogation, which I probably deserved since I seriously looked like a spy. The book was about a coup, so all of the pictures on my camera were decidedly not touristy – the parliament building, the prime minister’s residence (a blurry frame taken as we drove by it – with the sign saying “no pictures” in the picture), the lone television and radio station, the primary police headquarters, etc. – nothing on my camera was helping my “tourist” story. I had no plausible reason for having taken those photos, I had a retired military ID card, and there was absolutely no way I was going to tell them I was a writer and have them Google my bio.
“In the end, they let me go, but not without letting slip quite a bit about the current machinations within Lesotho – and all of that played out on the page. ”
TRBS: Incredibly, this is your twelfth novel starring Taskforce operator Pike Logan. Did you ever think back in 2011 when One Rough Man came out that Pike would still be around more than ten books later?
Taylor: “Ha! No way at all. When I initially wrote One Rough Man, it was simply a bucket list item. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and had it in the back of my mind my entire life that I would write a novel.
“On what would end up being my last assignment in the military, as a professor of military science at The Citadel, I had some spare time on my hands. No deployments, and a concrete, 9-5 job. I decided to write my novel, figuring it would just sit on the nightstand when I was done — goal met. It sold, and I was asked if I could write another one. I said, “Yeah, I think so. . . ” and I reached a turning point in my life. I turned down my next promotion, retired from the military, and began writing.
“Trust me, nobody is more pleasantly surprised than I am.”
TRBS: Fan-favorites Aaron and Shoshana, two really great characters, are both back in this one. You have a deep roster of beloved, well-developed characters. . . After Pike, which character is the most fun to write—and does it surprise you at all how much your readers have taken to Shoshana, the Israeli killing machine?
Taylor: “Truthfully, it depends on the book, but it’s usually a secondary character from that specific manuscript. Nung from The Widow’s Strike and No Fortunate Son, The Ghost from Enemy of Mine and The Polaris Protocol, and definitely Shoshana, who’s been back more times than I ever expected. As I said before, I fully intended to kill her off in her introduction from Days of Rage, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Luckily, my instinct was correct, because fans certainly like seeing her wreak havoc.”
TRBS: When you’re not writing, who are some of your go-to authors you enjoy reading, and was there a particular book that made you (before you were a prominent, New York Times bestselling author) want to write in this genre?
Taylor: “Honestly, there isn’t a particular book that directed me to write in the military thriller genre. It was much more a case of “write what you know” than anything else. When I first joined the military, I used to read all of the authors in my genre, to include, of course, Vince Flynn. Once I started working in Special Operations, I gravitated away from my own genre, simply because I was living the life and didn’t really want to read about it in fiction. Reading is an escape from one’s own universe, and I looked for something different. Currently, I read murder mysteries, such as John Sandford, John Lescroart, or Meg Gardiner. I just finished Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye, and am currently reading Robert Crais’ The Wanted. ”
TRBS: Lastly, now that Operator Down is hitting bookstores, what’s next for you—will you take some time away from writing or jump right into the next book?
Taylor: “Unfortunately, any time I had to take a break from writing was consumed by having my knee replaced from years of humping a rucksack. I’m currently working on the next Pike adventure, and have already conducted the research trip to Monaco, France, and Switzerland. As usual, I’m behind on just about everything, and I only have a hazy idea of what I’m going to do — but somehow or another, I’m including the famous casino in Monte Carlo. James Bond has nothing on Pike. ”
A huge thanks to Brad Taylor for going on the record once again for one of these Five Questions interviews. Nobody has provided more fun, entertaining answers than the author my father refers to as “Mr. Delta Force.”
If you’re not already reading Brad Taylor’s series and you’re a fan of Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn, you have to meet Pike Logan, Taylor’s fictional hero. Pike is a member of an elite, off-the-books task force that answers only to the president of the United States and a small oversight committee. When the crap hits the fan, Pike and his team are the ones tasked with carrying out the most time-sensitive and dangerous missions. Taylor writes with gripping authenticity as a highly-trained operative who just happens to pen bestselling novels for a living now. He’s the real deal, and it shows on every page.
When it comes to integrating female operatives into a series, Taylor is a trailblazer, paving the way for more strong, hard-hitting women across the genre. Sure, it’s popular now, and a lot of authors are teaming their characters up with female operators, spies, assassins, and soldiers, but that wasn’t always the case. Taylor was one of the first famous writers to do it, and he actually did it twice. . .
Jennifer Cahill is as much a part of this franchise as Pike Logan, and someone who’s not to be messed with. Likewise, as mentioned above, Shoshana, an Israeli killing machine, is one of the most lethal characters in the genre today. Thankfully, she and Pike are basically on the same side, because sparks would fly if they ever truly had it out with each other. Luckily for readers, both Jennifer and Shoshana (along with Pike and other fan-favorite characters) are back for Operator Down.
Former Special Forces Officer and New York Times bestselling author Brad Taylor delivers a heart-pounding thriller where Pike Logan’s search for a Mossad agent and ally puts him on a collision course with a ruthless military coup in Africa—and tests his loyalties to the Taskforce.
It was to be a simple mission. Nothing more than assessing whether a merchant in the fabled Israeli Diamond Exchange was involved in a scheme that could potentially embarrass the state of Israel. But nothing is ever simple in the world of intelligence, as Aaron Bergman—a former leader of an elite direct action team under the Mossad—should have known. Executing the operation as a contractor, a cutout that gave the State of Israel plausible deniability, he disappears without a trace.
Pike Logan and his team know none of this, but he’s tracking an American arms dealer in Tel Aviv who may—or may not—be attempting to sell sensitive nuclear weapons components to the highest bidder. When Pike’s team breaks up an attempt at killing Shoshana, Aaron’s partner, they stumble upon much more than they expected—a concerted conspiracy to topple a democratic African country.
Beginning to untangle a web that extends through both the American and Israeli intelligence community, Pike is forced to choose between his Israeli friends and his Taskforce mission, even as the execution of the coup begins to form. At the heart of it is Aaron, and his disappearance is the one mistake the plotters made. Because Shoshana is the greatest killing machine the Mossad has ever produced, and she will stop at nothing to help Aaron, even if it means killing Pike Logan.
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.