Operator Down (Pike Logan Series #12)

Operator Down (Pike Logan Series #12)

by Brad Taylor

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Overview

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 supposed 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 coup begins. But Aaron's 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101984833
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/31/2018
Series: Pike Logan Series , #12
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 48,235
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

BRAD TAYLOR is the author of the New York Times bestselling Pike Logan series. He served for more than twenty years in the U.S. Army, including eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, commonly known as Delta Force. He retired as a Special Forces lieutenant colonel and now lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Read an Excerpt

1

Being a spy is a lot like being a bank robber. In espionage-as in crime-it's always the little things that get you. You can plan for an entire operation, allowing for one contingency after another, foreseeing when and where things might go wrong, but you inevitably miss the little things. A drop of sweat on a doorknob, drywall shavings left behind after the installation of a bug, a nick from a tension wrench in the brass plate of a lock. Small things with huge impacts.

In this case, the little thing happened before Aaron Bergmann had even left Israel, when a travel voucher routed through Mossad headquarters included a man who had been specifically excluded from the mission read-on. For a specific reason. And that little thing would prove devastating for Aaron and his neophyte apprentice.

Casually tapping the tablet in front of him, Aaron said, "Alex, turn just a tad bit to the right. I'm missing the man on the left."

Across the table from him Alexandra Levy shifted slightly, her face aglow. She said, "This is so exiting! Straight out of a James Bond movie."

He chuckled, then said, "Right there. Good." He hit record on the tablet.

Alex stiffened a little bit, as if she were posing for a photographer, holding her angle. She whispered, "That thing will really read their lips? Tell us what they're saying?"

Aaron said, "Yep. If you can keep the camera on them, but don't look so rigid. Relax a little. I'll tell you if it shifts off."

Aaron continued manipulating a piece of software in his tablet, something that was highly classified and usually reserved for active Mossad agents. A simple button camera in Alexandra's blouse was tied by Bluetooth to his tablet and seemed to be out of a 007 movie, but in truth, both were commercially available to anyone who wanted them. The secret was the software churning through what the camera sent it.

Artificial intelligence for facial recognition had grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and the Mossad had taken that in a different direction, focusing on the spoken word. They'd replicated the human act of lipreading in the cyberworld, designing a software suite that could decipher what was being said without hearing sound.

Alex relaxed her body a bit, contrition floating across her face. "Sorry. This isn't my expertise. You should be doing the camera work."

He laid the tablet on the table and took a sip of beer, saying, "You're doing fine. This beats working in the diamond exchange, right? Keep up the talent and I might recruit you for my firm."

She grinned and said, "No, no, this is enough excitement. I enjoy being able to help-I've never even been to Africa-but I'll stick with my boring job."

There was no fear in the statement. No realization of the risk. It was like she thought they were executing a high school senior prank. She had no idea of the threat level.

That would come later.

She glanced over the balcony toward their target and said, "Besides, I don't think your partner would agree to that. I think she hates me."

Three people sat at the table they were filming, two white and one black. Their target was a man of about thirty-five, and unlike the rest of the patrons in the restaurant, he was dressed in a suit as if he were still working in his office in Israel. The other white man looked like he was about to head out on a safari, wearing cargo pants and a shirt that had more pockets than a photographer's vest. He had shaggy blond hair, ice-blue eyes, and a feral quality. Aaron had seen his type plenty of times before, but only in a war zones. It intrigued him.

The final man was tall, with a thin mustache and coal-black skin. He was dressed like a local but didn't act like one. Ramrod straight, he showed not a whit of humor. Had they held the meeting at a cafŽ in downtown Johannesburg-where the target was staying-they would have attracted attention by their very disparate appearances, but they didn't here. Which explained why Aaron's target had chosen this restaurant. The one thing remaining was to find out why the meeting was occurring.

The only man Aaron recognized was the one the Mossad had asked him to track-an employee of a diamond broker in Tel Aviv. The other two were a mystery, but he'd know about them soon enough, when they reviewed the footage later.

The primary problem with the lipreading software was choosing a language-try to lip-read German when the target was speaking Chinese and you'd get gibberish. Here, in the township of Soweto, just outside the city center of Johannesburg, South Africa, he was sure they were speaking English. There was no way the black man spoke Hebrew, and he would be astounded if his target from Israel spoke something like Swahili or Afrikaans. No, they'd be speaking English, and the fact that his method of recording the conversation came through in visual rather than auditory form was a plus in the current environment.

The outdoor balcony they were on belonged to a restaurant called Sakhumzi, as did the patio holding the target's table. Just a stone's throw from the historical houses of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, in the section of Soweto known as Orlando West, the restaurant hosted a smorgasbord of local food and native performers and was a permanent stop for tour groups large and small traveling to see the ghetto made famous in the uprising against apartheid. Because of it, there was a constant drumbeat of laughter and clapping-something that had no effect on the lipreading software. As long as Aaron could keep a line of sight with whoever was talking.

Aaron focused on the computer, tapping icons and ensuring three computer-generated squares remained over the men's mouths. He said, "Position is good. Keep that." When he hadn't responded to Alex's statement, she repeated, "Your partner doesn't care for me at all. I thought she was going to throw me out of your house."

Aaron looked up from the tablet and said, "Shoshana? She doesn't hate you. She's just mad because I brought you instead of her. She was aggravated at me for the decision. It's nothing personal."

Making sure not to disrupt the camera angle, she said, "I don't think so. When you left the room, she was . . . a little scary."

Aaron laughed and returned to the tablet, offhandedly saying, "You need to get to know her. She's not all knives and death threats. She just acts that way. She understands that she didn't have the knowledge base for this mission. When we fly back, I'll take you to dinner. The three of us."

Alex smiled and said, "I'd like that. I think she thought . . ."

Aaron looked up from the tablet and said, "Thought what?"

"That we . . . I mean, you and me . . . might . . ."

Aaron scoffed and said, "You're twenty years younger than me."

She said, "Yeah, but it was the Mossad that asked me . . . you asked me . . . I mean, they wouldn't do that unless it was for a reason."

Aaron realized she thought she really was in a movie. And that she was hitting on him. A twentysomething sabra who worked inside the Israeli diamond exchange, she was no doubt attractive. Brown hair, brown eyes, liquid skin, and a quiet intelligence surrounded by an innocence he no longer possessed, he would have hunted her like a wolf a decade ago, but no longer. She deserved to live in her innocence. His entire existence was ensuring people like her could do so. He decided to put an end to the fantasy.

"Alex, I picked you because you understand the diamond market. Yes, you're attractive, which meant I could use you to blend in, but I need your knowledge. Period. You watch the tape, you tell me what they're talking about within the diamond world, and I write an assessment. That's it. This isn't a complex thing. We're not here to save Israel from Blofeld. We're here to save Israel from embarrassment. That's all. It's a simple mission."

Turning red, she tilted forward and whispered, "What does that mean? I wasn't suggesting anything."

He said, "You're screwing with the camera angle. Lean back."

The target at the table answered a cell phone.

Aaron said, "Shit. Lean back-now."

Alex did so abruptly, causing the camera to sway wildly. Aaron said, "Stay still."

The man turned away from them, still on the phone.

Aaron said, "We need to move. You need to move. Stand up and go to the bathroom. Walk by the table and get me a shot of his face as long as you can. Stop and ask the table for directions, but not to him. Let him keep talking on the phone."

Hesitantly, Alex stood. More forcefully than he wanted to, Aaron said, "Go."

She did, sidling between the throngs of tour bus patrons and locals, threading between the tables and down the stairs, the picture on Aaron's tablet jumping left and right. She reached the patio and it stabilized. She walked toward the restrooms, then stopped at the table, asking directions. He recorded about a fifteen-second snippet of the phone conversation, unsure if the software would be able to utilize the footage because the target's face was partially obscured by his smartphone.

He glanced over the balcony to see the interaction, and she broke contact, doing a passable job of being a tourist. He saw no outward interest in the interruption.

Aaron ignored the rest of the feed, wondering if Alex would be smart enough to cut it off if she really chose to use the bathroom. She did. Or maybe the Bluetooth simply lost contact because of distance. He grinned and took a sip of his beer, surreptitiously giving the target table a side-eye.

The Israeli was asking a waitress for the check. Aaron immediately picked up his phone and called Alex, telling her to return.

The men tossed some rand on the table, preparing to leave, and he saw her coming across the patio. She mounted the stairs to the balcony and he stood, saying, "Hopefully they take the same car. If they split up, we'll stick to the target."

Hidden by the balcony railing, they let the group exit the restaurant, then followed, getting to the parking lot just as they were loading a single car. A part of him spiked at the action, since they'd arrived in two separate cars.

He should have listened to his sixth sense. Lulled by the minimal threat of his mission, he thought he had his bases covered, but he had forgotten a hard truth he'd learned in the past: In warfare, the enemy gets a vote.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Operator Down"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Brad Taylor.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

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Operator Down: A Pike Logan Thriller 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’m never disappointed reading Brad Taylor’s books. I feel personally involved with the characters and love the plots. His books are riveting. I can’t put them down! Can’t wait to see what is next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait for the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Pike Logan series and all of the characters within. This book was exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm sure the is one of the best Pike Logan books. FAST PACED, EXCELLENT READ. THE RESEARCH FOR Operator Down is incredible. Good job Brad Taylor. Can't wait for your next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced and lots of action. Kind of way out with the actions of taskforce members and their friends but it keeps me coming back for more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You start and you cannot put it down
Anonymous 4 months ago
Real
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The fact that I enjoyed the first 11 in the series (5 stars) leads me to great disappointment in this book. The DRAMA with Shoshana, Pike and the Taskforce was just too much to overcome. How many times could you say the looks, attitude, fist crunching and overall behavior of Shoshana.....be mentioned in the dozens. If I wanted a romance novel, without the romance, this was it. Annoying and a waist of money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
could+hardly+put+it+down.+very+enjoyable+and+action+packed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed yet another fantastic novel in the series. Could not put it down as it provided me a great escape.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like the improbable in a thriller, ‘this book’s for you.’
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book holds your attention from beginning to end. I have read all of Brad Taylor's Pike series books 1-12 and Operator Down was the best! Can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of everything I read Pike Logan books take me on such adventurous wild rides. I get totally lost in it and spend every moment possible until the last page is turned. Keep ‘em coming!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book because I like the characters,especially Pike and the plots in all of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gteat
crusher56 More than 1 year ago
One of his most terrible stories. Poor Shoshanna. Half the story was about her pouting, feeling sorry for herself. wanting to kill everyone. I was so tired of her that i skipped a lot of the story because of her. I hope Mr Taylor does not include her in anymore stories, Extremely disappointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding. My only question is how come in a remote location as in this story everyone speaks English?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best of the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read thru most of the night. Loved the characters. Feels like you have a connection with them. Always pulling for the team.
JennMcLean More than 1 year ago
OH MY GOD THAT WAS A GOOD BOOK!!! I just (5 minutes ago) finished “Operator Down”, Brad Taylor’s latest Pike Logan book. It’s the twelfth book in this blockbuster series and it was spectacular! I’ve read half a dozen of Taylor’s books in this series and every single one is a thrill ride. But this one was the perfect mix of intrigue, mystery, a pulse pounding adrenaline rush and rich characters. It was the perfect read. I have a theory about perfect books. They have to start with deeply interesting characters who care about one another. The book shouldn’t hinge on the mystery, per say, but the characters’ relationships and how that is affected by the mystery/thiriller that surrounds them. I wouldn’t care a whit about just some mystery or thrill ride if I wasn’t also reading about how my favorite characters are affected by that situation. It’s human emotion that drives a great story. That’s what Brad Taylor has done here, combined beloved characters with a great thriller, it’s the perfect storm. Brad Taylor is the real deal. He writes what he knows. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and a twenty-one year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces. Taylor also had eight years with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment popularly known as Delta Force. He retired in 2010 and uses his extensive knowledge to write spectacular thrillers. It shows in the harrowing details he expertly weaves into his stories. In “Operator Down” Pike and Jennifer are working for the Taskforce to diagnose a potential international problem. While following leads, Pike thinks he’s heard a threat against friends Shoshana & Aaron who are former Mossad operatives. Getting permission from the Taskforce to uncover the true danger they’re facing will be a hard fight. Pike is hoping all won’t be lost because of bureaucratic red tape. Don’t miss this book! Even if, like me, you usually don’t love military thrillers, seriously, you have to try Brad Taylor! He writes a kick ass read but on top of that, his characters are so well rounded and written with such depth. The final nugget of gold you get when reading a Brad Taylor book is the organic learning that happens just by enjoying a great thriller. I don’t learn history or geography easily, it’s not an interest I have normally. BUT when reading any Taylor book I find I easily take in information that helps me understand what’s happening in the world more easily. What a bonus! I learn about current events and countries and military maneuvering and government oversight just by loving a great thriller. I’d take that anyway. If you haven’t read a Brad Taylor book yet, I started with “No Fortunate Son“. But the first Pike Logan book is “One Rough Man“, if you want to start at the beginning of the series.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
The Taskforce is back again with Pike Logan, Knuckles and Jenny actively working a simple surveillance mission. Their job is to find out if a certain party involved in the Israeli diamond business is involved in a plot that could seriously embarrass and damage Israel’s reputation on a world-wide scale. But the simple mission blows up and goes awry, winding up with Pike’s good Israeli friends, Aaron and Shoshanna in serious trouble. Aaron is kidnapped by South African forces who believe he is spying for America or Israel against their takeover of the government in Lesotho, South Africa. Shoshanna is a secret Israeli, former Mossad, agent who is a hot-tempered killing machine who turns deadly at the slightest attempt at deception. The plot thickens and it turns out the Taskforce has wandered smack into a military coup in Lesotho and a plot by an American arms dealer to sell “triggers” for putting together a nuclear bomb to the right bidder. The latter must be stopped and that part of the plot is told in fragments as the kidnapping of Aaron takes precedence. Shoshanna doesn’t believe the group is doing enough to rescue her husband Aaron and so spends most of the novel alternatively going rogue when inflamed and cooperating when the Taskforce proves they are being trustful and loving. The Taskforce follows its usual game plan of tracking the multi-layered group of “bad guys” who are either involved in nuclear arms dealing or government takeovers. At times it’s a bit drawn out and too long. However, bones break, bodies fly, and death is an ever-distracting moment away for all the characters involved in this mission. Shoshanna prevails as the main character here, at points even turning against Pike and Jennifer. The force of her character leaves the readers breathless. Indeed the ending of the novel will also leave the reader stunned, far distant from what one expected. Again, a thriller that’s great adventure and a true international spy story to rival its counterparts in the genre!