Mark Greaney’s first solo outing as the steward of Tom Clancy’s long-running Jack Ryan series, Full Force and Effect, offers a deftly fictionalized reproduction of contemporary real-world geopolitics. Under the leadership of Choi Ji-Hoon – the embodiment of Kim Jong-Un – North Korea has plans to extract a rich deposit of rare minerals, thereby granting the nation an unfathomable amount of hard capital that would enable their ability to purchase nuclear weapons and influence key figures of the United Nations. But sanctions vaunted by the United States threaten to derail the supreme leader’s planners, leaving only one option: the elimination of President Jack Ryan.
There’s more to it, of course: a wildly convoluted plan comprised of various factions, some of whom are entirely cognizant of their roles, while others operate in the dark. Jack Ryan Jr. and his cohorts at The Campus enter the fray following the murder of a veteran CIA officer. Their investigation leads to some pulse-pounding confrontations and shoot-outs as they untangle the plot, the highlight of which sees Ryan Jr. facing off in a battle of wits with a female spy as his colleagues rush to fulfil the basic fundamentals of his undercover identity. Greaney crafts these scenes with aplomb, shedding the gracelessness and textbook-like lingo present in the late Clancy’s novels. There’s little room for character development, and good luck extrapolating an impassioned thought from the novel’s gigantic cast – that’s not what Clancy was famed for, and it wouldn’t make sense to change the formula that earned him a legion of fans.
Full Force and Effect is a plot-driven technothriller, and a worthy addition to the Jack Ryan canon. Detractors won’t be swayed, but long-time readers will be wholly satisfied. With Greaney at the helm, there’s plenty of life left in the Clancy universe: indeed, perhaps this is the initiation of a renaissance.