cover image Dead Man’s Hand: A Pike Logan Novel

Dead Man’s Hand: A Pike Logan Novel

Brad Taylor. Morrow, $32 (464p) ISBN 978-0-0632-2205-2

Taylor’s 18th Pike Logan adventure (after The Devil’s Ransom) finds a cell of Ukrainian partisans known as the Wolves undertaking a mission to kill Vladimir Putin. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin has put in place a plan called Dead Man’s Hand, which will trigger a nuclear attack on the West if he is ever removed from power or killed by his own countrymen. The job of launching the missiles falls to Victor Petrov, commander of the Russian National Guard, who’s also tasked with assassinating a Swedish official so the subsequent turmoil will result in Sweden and Finland failing in their bid to join NATO. Meanwhile, Logan and his unit, the Taskforce, are training in North Carolina when Logan is summoned to Washington, D.C., and ordered to protect Sweden and Finland’s attempts to join the alliance. Taylor packs in some decent action, but the overly busy plot keeps both Logan and readers in the dark for too long about the nature of the novel’s central conflict, and how Logan is going to resolve it. The constantly shifting POVs only muddy the waters. This disappoints. Agent: John Talbot, Talbot Fortune Agency. (Jan.)