Tom Clancy’s Point of Impact by Mike Maden

9780718188160.jpgMike Maden takes over the reins of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Jr. series with Point of Contact, which features plenty of page-turning propulsion and the high-stakes excitement fans expect. Perfect for the armchair action-junkies who like their books blockbuster-movie paced and their characters uncomplicated.

When former US Senator Weston Rhodes approaches financial analyst firm Hendley Associates — the cover for the top-secret American intelligence agency The Campus — to look into the books of Singapore-based Dalfan Technologies, Jack Ryan Jr. and Paul Brown —  a seemingly harmless, mild-mannered forensic accountant — are tasked with the mission. But neither man fully trusts one another: Paul can sense there’s more to the President’s son than mets the eye, and Jack Ryan Jr. recognises something’s off about the supposed desk jockey. But soon enough, against the backdrop of North Korean missile testing and a deadly cyclone encroaching on the island nation, Jack and Paul find themselves with bigger problems than their mutual distrust; the kind of trouble that comes in the form of trained assassins and a threat to derail the world economy.

Clancy fans will feel safe in the hands of Maden, an author with a bunch of techno-thrillers already to his name. There’re some moments when the plot grinds —  a ridiculous amount of time is spent on Jack Ryan Jr. learning knife combat, for example — but that’s all par for the course. Point of Contact doesn’t win any points for style or substance, but it does its job, and fills the Clancy-shaped hole in our lives that Mark Greaney and Grant Blackwood filled in ably.

ISBN: 9780718188160
ISBN-10: 0718188160
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 13-Jun-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: Tom Clancy’s Truth Faith and Allegiance by Mark Greaney

9780718181970.jpgAbove all else, Tom Clancy’s novels garnered mass readership because his plots were either ripped from the headlines, or prognostications of headlines-to-come. Since taking up the mantle of penning the continuing adventures of characters based in the Jack Ryan universe, Grant Blackwood and Mark Greaney have maintained the author’s legacy. Their Jack Ryan novels, like the series’ originator, are rich in technical detail, stuffed with rote “Hooah” characters, and loaded with high-stake gunfights, high-risk espionage operations and political double-crosses. While modern thrillers have become leaner and meaner, Clancy’s novels have fortified their own distinct place in the genre by maintaining the hallmarks that popularised them in the first place. And Mark Greaney’s Truth Faith and Allegiance is a damn fine Tom Clancy novel, and a great addition to the Jack Ryan canon.

When Romanian hacker Alexandru Dalcu unearths a U.S. Office of Personnel Management file containing American security clearance applications, he uses his techno-skills to “weaponise” the data and effectively turn it into a hit-list for American’s enemies; essentially a rolodex of low-level and high-level government officials. A rogue Saudi pays Dalcu to construct a list of key American anti-terror fighters, and sells the information to ISIS, who recruit “cleanskins” — radical sympathisers unknown to the security services – – to attack targets within the United State’s borders. So the shit has seriously hit the fan, and what follows are increasingly brazen terrorist attacks on important personnel. Jack Ryan Jr. — son of former Clancy hero and now president Jack Ryan — alongside his comrades at the black-ops unit run by Hendley Associates known as “the Campus” — are tasked with bringing an end to the attacks.

Truth Faith and Allegiance is chock-full of the features that made Clancy’s works so successful: meticulous military detail, war heroics, and nail-biting action. There are moments you’ll wish the prose could be tightened, and a few scenes streamlined, to bring the next stunning action sequence to the page sooner, but there’s no doubt about it: Mark Greaney is the perfect successor to the big man himself. Even more impressively, Truth Faith and Allegiance has encouraged me to pick up Greaney’s non-Clancy affiliated work. This is a highly satisfying thriller that won’t sway the naysayers, but will satiate longtime fans, and other readers searching for a geopolitical/techno thriller to wile away the hours. An eminently readable, highly enjoyable romp.

ISBN: 9780718181970
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 496
Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 6-Dec-2016
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: Tom Clancy’s Full Force & Effect by Mark Greaney

Full Force and EffectMark 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.

Review: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes by Dick Couch & George Galdorisi

AshesLike a phoenix from the flames, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center returns … only to immediately crash back down to earth. OUT OF THE ASHES is an archaic military thriller, more interested in bombarding readers with acronyms and jargons than telling a compelling story. However long Op-Center’s revival lasts, I won’t be around to see it.

The first 100 pages of OUT OF THE ASHES are entirely dispensable. Seriously, the novel wouldn’t suffer for their demise. What is essentially an elongated prologue delves into the formation of the new Ops-Center following the demise of its previous incarnation. Following devastating bombings in sports stadiums across the country, the President demands the reformation of the old agency – and it’s done so over the course of the next hundred pages, culminating with the wrapping up of the whole storyline involving the stadium bombings. All that build-up for a meagre payoff. Infuriating.

Then we cut to months later, Ops-Center now established, when a new threat emerges in the Middle East. A Saudi prince executes a nefarious scheme to fool the United States into attacking Syria. Will Ops-Center take the bait? Will their first true test be their last?

Bloated with cardboard characters, OUT OF THE ASHES lacks thrills and the gusto the best Clancy novels had. He was never renowned for his character development, but at least Clancy’s action scenes had some punch. This novel doesn’t. It’s a watered down facsimile. I’m out.