James Patterson and Brendan DuBois are back with the follow-up BookShot, where the reader met Owen Taylor, a recently-retired member of American Special Operations. With as much intensity as the debut piece, Patterson and DuBois solidify their ability to keep Taylor fresh and at the forefront of the reader’s mind. Owen Taylor is quite enjoying his new life in rural New Hampshire, though some of his less-welcoming neighbours need a little reminder of common decency. When he’s visited by a former colleague, Taylor learns of an issue down in Georgia that has his name written all over it. Travelling down, Taylor discovers a former special ops has been decimated by an IED, though things are not quite as cut and dry as that. While it would be easy to point fingers at the Taliban or ISIS, some raw footage leads Taylor to believe that popular war correspondent, Jack Zach, may have tipped off the enemy to an America contingent, causing significant casualties. This pushes Taylor to agree to help and he finds himself seeking out the source. Jack Zach does not seem to want to engage with Taylor in New York, though the latter will not take a simple no. A tip sends Taylor over to the Turkey-Syrian border, but Zach’s little game of cat and mouse keeps him one step ahead. After retuning the the US, Taylor discovers that his sleuthing is not appreciated and that Zach has friends in high places. However, Owen Taylor is stubborn, if nothing else, and will not stop until he has been able to avenge this cowardly act, if he can make it out alive. Patterson and DuBois show that their collaborative skills are top-notch. BookShot fans and those who loved the opening Owen Taylor piece will surely enjoy this follow-up.
It is sometimes difficult to produce a second high-quality short story in such short order. Patterson and DuBois did well with their BookShot ‘The End’ and this sequel offers just as much to the curious reader. Owen Taylor’s character is again wonderfully developed. There is less backstory here, though Taylor does flashback to his crew on the final mission (which was the crux of the opening story). I was certain that things would remain focussed in New Hampshire, where Taylor had a new group of enemies to keep him busy, though he seems to have handled them in a single (short) chapter. Working through the skills that Taylor honed while serving his country, the reader is able to see a decent snapshot of the man and his capabilities. The story is brief and the chapters speed along, permitting the reader to catapult through to the end in a single setting. Doing the reverse of the first piece, the reader sees Taylor in his nirvana before being thrust back into the combat zone he so quickly fled. An interesting contrast and should be noted for those who like to dig deeply into a story’s symbolism. I said that I would formulate an opinion of whether I wanted to see Owen Taylor in a full-length novel after reading this piece. I can say that I would not, as I feel the quick pace of the story is the perfect setting. However, I would also not want to see numerous BookShots that pull Taylor back into the mix and away from his home. It seems too ‘agent for hire after he retires’ and would surely get old quickly. Patterson and DuBois have done well with these two stories. We’ll see if they are done or have another idea floating around between them, Owen Taylor or otherwise.
Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DuBois, on a great follow-up piece. Your collaborative effort offers up some great storytelling and I can only hope to find more in the months to come (or this BookShot binge month)!
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons