A Taskforce Story
by Brad Taylor
PENGUIN GROUP DuttonPike Logan is a member of the Taskforce. He is training (and slowly falling for) Jennifer Cahill, a young anthropologist, who has gone on a dig in Guatemala with Pike. She wants to further her career and jumps at an archaeological dig in Roswell, New Mexico. Their affair is slow but mounting and involves awkward if fair turnabouts.
As they excavate in Roswell, they uncover something that says the dig isn't what it seems, and the local henchmen rally to stop them. Pike's time and resources in the Taskforce allows him to unearth what's truly going on.
The suspense here is first rate. The characters involving enough for their genre--if macho-oriented--as one might expect from a military thriller.
I will defer to the author in terms of combat as he was a member of the military's Special Forces. I'm not as certain about the violence as a means to an end. At least, one act to incapacitate the enemy pushed it too far into the gruesome. After all, the guy was a hired local flunky looking for a quick buck. Of course, it's hard to tell the baddie's motives as the readers aren't in his head. But how far is too far? He can be a gentleman with women but how about with men? Couldn't he have done something that wouldn't maim the man for life?
I'm sure the guys who love this genre would gobble this stuff up, but it leaves me wondering about the protagonist: Is he impulsive? Is he giving enough thought to his actions? Will his sense of chivalry drive him to unnecessary damage?
It's one narrative moment, but it impaired my confidence in the character's judgment. Maybe it's something he has to work on, but it'd be nice to see that concern about his impulses addressed if not fully resolved, as this is only a short novel.
However, if you are a human of swift justice and action-packed punches, unpacking human motivations is not your pastime métier. This book cooks up exactly the seasonings you're hankering for. As for the speculative genre, it whets but mostly feints. Its main urge is to pluck those thrill strings.