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by Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-399-16047-9
Publisher: Putnam

The late Clancy (1947-2013) ends his active role in his Jack Ryan franchise on an oddly timely note.

Ryan, former CIA op, is president, of course, and he’s back up against the Russkies. You can tell who they are since, even when transliterated into English, they say da: “Da. I have been tasked with protecting this building, not the Communist Party.” And why, Fearless Leader? Because they’re commies, and they do what they’re supposed to do. The biggest, baddest commie of all is Vladimir Putin—beg pardon, Valeri Volodin, veteran of the former Soviet Empire and now, two decades after the fall, the engineer of its resurgence. First off comes the invasion of Estonia “on the first moonless night of spring,” an act that NATO fails to oppose even though Estonia is a NATO signatory; then comes turmoil in Ukraine. Here’s where it gets especially timely, for, as Clancy and Greaney write, just off the headlines, “Any hopes the police might have had that the situation would defuse itself went away when tents started to be erected on both sides, and nationalists and Russian Ukrainians began clashes that turned more and more violent.” Jack Ryan Sr. and Jr. team up again to take Volodin on, even though, in a nod to verisimilitude on the people instead of the hardware front, the authors admit that Jr. makes a poor spy inasmuch as he looks just like his world-famous pop. Must the nukes shower down upon him in order to make Volodin behave? The Ryans, naturally enough, have another card to play. It’s vintage Clancy (Threat Vector, 2012, etc.) stuff, full of cool technology and cardboard characters (“he was a single-minded and purposeful individual, perhaps to a pathological degree”), with a story that, given enough suspended disbelief, is a pleasing fairy tale for people who like things that blow up.

Likely not the last installment in the Ryan saga—not with a world full of terrorists, disgruntled KGB types and Venezuelans.