First of all, if you don't know what a mensch is, look it up. It's a very cool word.
Brad Taylor's first novel (the second one, with the same protagonist, is coming out January 17), One Rough Man, is a very good special forces-inspired book. Pike Logan (how great a name is that?) works for Taskforce, which is a military unit that goes beyond the Seals, Delta Force, etc. Taskforce is given assignments that usually take as long as a year to complete. The end result is that a bad guy bites the dust. This organization is so secret, that there is no government record of its existence. I know, I know. So far, it sounds fairly mundane and ho hum. But there is quite a twist to it. Pike loses his wife and daughter to an act of violence. 8 months later, he's basically removed himself from society and is still wallowing (understandably!) in self-pity. He is brought back to the real world by a young woman, Jennifer Cahill, in her '20's (he, himself, is only in his '30's) whose uncle has been looking for a Mayan temple in South America. There is a terrorist plot that these 2 unlikely partners have to stop. The combination of Pike's tragedy, Jennifer's uncle's quest, and a globe-trotting chase, with a hugely dangerous terrorist plot on American soil as the backdrop, lends itself to a very exciting book. Brad is a good storyteller.
Brad's own background includes a couple of decades of being in special forces. He seems to know what he's talking about, although my own military experience of 6 years in the Army Reserve would not help me understand whether he's legit or not. I just assume he is. I assure you that I learned nothing about Special forces, or even the military, from my 6 years. In fact, all I remember is that I deliberately flunked a dental lab exam so that I wouldn't have to spend extra weeks on active duty (in the late '60's, early '70's). Every time they asked to have the plaster of paris squared off, I rounded it. When they asked for 1 1/8" long, I made it 3". It worked. I only had one extra week before I went back to my regular training as a medic (my mother-in-law was so proud - her son-in-law, the medic).
Now you may wonder why I called Brad a mensch. Well I'm going to tell you. After my buddy Jack gave me the book, I read about 150 pages and was really enjoying it. So, kiss-up that I am, I emailed Brad, gave him my book blog background, told him how many books a year I read (I know, this is gag-worthy), and asked if he was doing a Northern California tour. He answered within 2 hours to comment on my comments and to explain that he's not doing a Northern California tour with book #2. Hopefully, we'll see him for book #3.
Now if that had been the extent of it, I would have been pretty pleased. As it turns out, it was only the beginning. When I finished the book, I emailed him again (my new best friend, Brad) and told him how much I enjoyed the book. I also asked him about 1 plot point that I was confused about. I said that it was very likely me and not him, but did he mind explaining it to me. Okay, here's the mensch-y part. He emailed back (again, within 2 hours) and gave me a detailed explanation that cleared it up for me. After seeing his answer, more than ever I saw it was my reading and not his writing that was the problem. In several more email exchanges, he wouldn't let me take the blame - ergo, a mensch. I write to quite a few authors for one reason or another (remember I said I'm a kiss-up?). Many will respond, but only 1 other author, John Lescroart, actually took pains to get me the answers that I was looking for.
Brad, you have found a lifelong, loyal, book-recommending fan in me. Can't wait for book #2.