The latest in the action-filled series of thrillers based on characters created by the late Tom Clancy (Oath of Office, 2018, etc.) and continued here by Maden.
Malign forces are trying to steal America’s vital secrets, which it keeps in the highly secure IC Cloud. Naturally, a security breach would be catastrophic. China is the biggest cybersecurity threat by far, and it may have American allies. Sen. Deborah Dixon, who wants President Jack Ryan’s job, says in a speech that “the future belongs to America and China,” and a Ryan aide speculates that she may be in league with the Chinese. Meanwhile, Jack Ryan Jr. is a financial analyst at Hendley Associates who is sent to Poland to see if there is a connection between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Poland. In Warsaw, he is assigned a Polish assistant, Agent Liliana Pilecki. She’s good-looking, of course, and exceptionally brave. There’s an unrequited sexual tension between them that reflects especially well on Jack Jr. as a heck of a decent guy. Early on, his cancer-stricken friend, Cory, makes a deathbed request that Jack feels honor-bound to keep. “A man keeps his word,” he thinks, and he goes to heroic lengths to do so. Jack Ryan Jr. is definitely someone you want on your side, and not because he’s the president’s son. He is the quintessential good guy—tough, smart, honorable, unafraid. Handcuffed with his hands behind his back atop a Peruvian mountain and saying he needs to pee, he asks a captor for help. “If you’re nice, you can hold it for me,” he wisecracks. “Of course, you’ll have to use both hands.” Now that’s a red-blooded American. Author Maden’s style meshes perfectly with the classic Clancy yarns, with global action, struggle, suffering, and formidable foes who get what they deserve.
Another well-crafted and enjoyable escape from reality. The Ryans just keep on saving the world.