Top critical review
Mediocre Story Telling and Weak Prose
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 18, 2021
American Traitor is much the same as other Pike Logan books. If you like Pike Logan books, you’ll like this one, too. If you’re looking for a book to complement a diet of Vince Flynn (pre-Kyle Mills) and Daniel Silva books, you’ll probably be disappointed with this one.
Taylor’s switching between first and third person narration bothers me. I don’t like first person narration in a thriller because it only tells the story from the given character’s perspective. In the case of Pike Logan, that is the perspective of a skilled operator who, despite advanced age and experience, still doesn’t understand or appreciate the exigencies that his superiors have to deal with while running covert operations in denied areas while using a completely illegal task force of former Special Operators and Paramilitary Officers. Pike’s character harbors the antipathy towards senior leaders that’s to be expected of a member of the SOF E6 mafia, but not of a leader of a covert team operating at the highest levels of the national command authority. The last few years have seen a series of events that are making those in the IC wonder whether or not covert action is going to be feasible in twenty years because of the global ubiquity of cell phones, wireless internet, and social networks. These events include the Raymond Davis incident, Delta Force getting caught on CCTVs while capturing an HVT in Libya, and the fact that the news of helicopters flying over Abbottobad during the Bin Laden raid was on Twitter before the operation was acknowledged by the United States. Such an environment requires operations to be throughly planned and coordinated by people who are more than appreciative of the risks of, say, getting into a shootout in broad daylight in a five eyes member country.
Taylor also needs to work on crafting his plots to be more engaging. His adopted daughter getting into serious trouble at her boarding school was completely predictable, and the fact that her roommate was conveniently the daughter of one of the main bad guys who lives half a world away was just ridiculous. Additionally, it was so predictable that Pike and Jennifer would get embroiled in an international crisis while on a vacation to Australia. Did Taylor actually think that the reader would believe that Pike and Jennifer were not going to get into any trouble on their trip? Of course they were.
Taylor also has an unbridled affinity for the word “damn.” A cursory search of the e-book finds dozens of uses of the word during the book, and it is incredibly annoying.
It was too apparent from the get-go that Taylor was using his book as a means of exploring the future of U.S. - China relations, which is a great basis for a book, but the problem is that his interpretation of that theme was not original. Hacking the F35 was a key part of the plot in PW Singer and August Cole’s “Ghost Fleet.” Having read that book before this one, it made the book much less entertaining, especially when he overtly describes the shift from terrorism to Great Power Conflict during one character’s explanation of the meaning of the “A2AD” acronym. Anyone who paid attention in English class should be familiar with the phrase “show, don’t tell.”
I’d been hoping for better books from Taylor after he shifted towards writing one book a year instead of two, but this one disabused me of the belief that his writing would get better if he had more time.