The latest military thriller in the late Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series (For Honor, 2018, etc.).
On a sunny summer morning in New York, visitors and crew are on the USS Intrepid at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. One such visitor is Capt. Ahmed Salehi, formerly of the navy of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. When wind conditions are just so, he unleashes deadly chlorine trifluoride into the air. Horrible deaths ensue, and victims’ flesh falls away “in dead lumps.” Chase Williams, director of the National Crisis Management Center (the Op-Center), immediately wants to know why their intelligence failed to pick up on the threat. They want to identify the country responsible and counterattack. “Find out why we did not know this,” Williams tells himself. The Op-Center had been watching Salehi before but had taken their eyes off him. At Fort Bragg and Camp Pendleton, Special Ops teams receive the ominous message “Black Wasp.” Maj. Hamilton Breen, who takes America and its defense “very, very seriously,” receives the same message. Op-Center connects Salehi to the attack, and of course he’s on the lam, so the Black Wasp team is assembled to find him and his cohorts, wherever in the world they may be. Black Wasp’s plan of action is so dangerous it “could not just explode in your face,” but could topple President Wyatt Midkiff’s administration. Meanwhile, and for no obvious plot reason, a teenage girl in Saudi Arabia is beaten nearly to death for wearing Western clothing with her hijab. The story has more talk than action, more action than character development, and frankly feels as though it’s been stamped out of a mold at the Clancy Factory. The Op-Center concept looks like a straitjacket that prevents the kind of creativity thriller fans enjoy in stories like those found in Mark Greaney’s Gray Man series.
A decent read but several clicks below the books that made Tom Clancy so well-admired.