Dead man's hand

Brad Taylor, 1965-

Book - 2024

To finally end the war between their nations, a rogue Ukranian band of partisans known as the Wolves teams up with members of Russia's military intelligence to assassinate Vladimir Putin. But Putin is aware of the traitors in his midst and assigns the loyal commander of the Russian national guard to root them out. It's a mission Victor Petrov is expected to undertake after he prevents Sweden from joining NATO, by assassinating a deputy minister of foreign affairs. After receiving intelligence about the threat in Sweden, the U.S. sends Pike Logan to identify Victor's target, only for him to get caught in the crossfire between Putin's agents and the Wolves. When the smoke clears, Pike makes no effort to stop the Wolves on ...their ultimate mission, believing it just, until he discovers that their operation has unimaginable consequences. For Putin is preparing a devastating endgame: activating the Dead Man's Hand nuclear response that will launch Russia's missiles in the event of his death.

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Review by Booklist Review

In the new, ripped-from-the-headlines Pike Logan thriller, the American intelligence operative is sent to Sweden, where a Russian assassin is apparently planning to carry out a deadly plan to keep Sweden from joining NATO as part of a larger scheme hatched by Vladimir Putin to finally win the war with Ukraine. If, that is, a splinter group of Ukrainian nationalists doesn't assassinate him first. Taylor's latest Logan novel, the eighteenth in the series, couldn't be more timely, what with Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine keeping it in rotation as a top news story. The author, a former Special Forces operative who has made a remarkably smooth transition to novelist, has always kept the Logan novels grounded in actual geopolitical events, which is one of the things that makes them so readable and resonant. The politics are familiar and the characters seem very much like real people navigating a real world. Fans of the series will be lining up for this one.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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.)

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