Even when it’s been disbanded and its creator has died, you can’t keep a good agency down—especially when it’s as badly needed as Clancy’s National Crisis Management Center.
In the utterly dispensable 100-page warm-up, Kuwaiti businessman Abdul-Muqtadir Kashif avenges drunken football fans’ attack on his wife by planting bombs in several NFL stadiums and causing panic in several more. After hundreds die, President Wyatt Midkiff tells retired Op-Center leader Paul Hood that he wants him to head a reborn Op-Center. Hood declines the honor but provides the perfect substitute: retired Adm. Chase Williams. In several extended foreplay sequences before the money shots, Williams recruits the experts and troops he needs, and then it’s bye-bye Abdul. Curtain. Intermission. In the more substantial and risible Act 2, Saudi oil pipeline czar Prince Ali al-Wandi plots to get the U.S. to attack Syria by making what looks like a nuclear-tipped missile appear out of nowhere, apparently in the Syrian desert. His ruse works well enough to fool Capt. Pete Blackman, commander of the USS Normandy, who suddenly finds his ship in a war zone, but not civilian naval analyst Laurie Phillips, who’s working aboard the Normandy. When Laurie persuades squadron pilot Lt. Sandee Barron to fly her over the spot where the nuke’s supposed to be sitting, the two women are shot down and face the worst a scheming Arab warlord can dish out. Paging the Op-Center, which turns the whole situation around, except for the little matter of 1,500 innocent American casualties.
The authors (Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor, 2012), who are becomingly careful not to outshine their model as prose stylists, provide many details about weapons systems, lots of acronyms and some unforgettable dialogue, as when the president yells at his unexpectedly peacenik defense secretary: “Jack, dang it. You’re my SECDEF!”