In which Jack Ryan, Junior and Senior, take on most of the bad guys in the world. Guess who wins.
Writing with international relations maven turned novelist Greaney, techno geek and political mayhem lover Clancy (The Hunt for Red October, 1984, etc.) drafts a legion of villains—al-Qaida operatives, rogue spooks, former Gadhafi agents and high-ups in the Chinese Communist Party—who are separately and together up to decidedly no good when it comes to the sovereign interests of the U.S., now led by former CIA agent Jack Ryan. His namesake son is a field agent, as adept as dad at identifying and eliminating threats, and the threats are ever so many. Junior and company have a clinically efficient way about them: “Target Four died, slumped on the floor by the toilet in the bathroom of the sports stadium, certain that this all must have been some terrible mistake.” Even so, getting to the heaviest of the heavies, among them brilliant hackers who, from the safety of China, are working 24/7 to break into America’s computers, takes them a little more effort and planning. Most of those heavies are believable, though one of them, a certain Tong, has a sort of Odd Job quality to him: “Not much gave him pleasure, his brain had been virtually programmed by the state so that it did not respond to such banal stimuli as pleasure.” It’s a pleasure, banal or no, to watch the Ryans at work against such fierce competition, and Clancy and Greaney are at the top of their game. Interestingly, too, Clancy’s writing has shed some of its erstwhile woodenness, and though he still loves gadgetry and military hardware, his latest doesn’t read like a tech manual, which is all to the good.
A satisfying thriller, with enough evildoers left over to ensure the possibility of another Ryan-Ryan adventure.