Clancy’s thriller industry lives on in this Jack Ryan Jr. adventure by Maden.
Vladimir Vasilev heads the Iron Syndicate, an international criminal enterprise, and he’s dying of cancer. Even bad guys have bucket lists, and his fondest wish is to have Jack Jr.’s head cut off and delivered to him. When Jack, a financial analyst, travels to the Balkans on business, his eye-surgeon mother, Cathy, asks him to look up a former patient, Aida Curic, in Sarajevo. Then the hit woman Elena Iliescu tries first to charm and then kill Jack. She goes one-for-one. “I’m just a guy who can throw a punch,” he says later. People wonder why anyone wants to kill him, while others muse that there's “no way to keep Jack safe short of locking him up.” He eventually finds the gorgeous (of course) Aida, a secular Muslim who runs a tour business and a refugee aid organization. They hit it off well enough that Jack almost falls in love. Oddly, no one in the story ever seems to associate Junior with Senior, who occupies the White House. Jack says his name is common in America, but some character might at least comment that he shares a famous name with or that he looks rather like the American president. Anyway, the stakes are high, with the Iron Syndicate hoping to incite World War 3 because “mafias thrive in wartime.” So they plan to vaporize thousands of people in a stadium using “122-millimeter thermobaric missiles fixed on the new T-14 Armata chassis.” In the Adriatic Sea, the USS Garza has GM/UGM-109E (TLAM-Block IV) Tomahawk cruise missiles, but they may be too late. There’s plenty of action, but readers looking for gore will have to settle for Bulgarian body parts in a kimchi jar and a poor fellow “shredded…like creamed chipped beef.”
Fast-moving and exciting, this one reads like it came from Clancy himself.