A North Korean ICBM crashes into the Sea of Japan. A veteran CIA officer is murdered in Ho Chi Minh City, and a package of forged documents goes missing. The pieces are there, but assembling the puzzle will cost Jack Ryan, Jr. and his fellow Campus agents precious time. Time they don’t have.
The challenge facing President Jack Ryan is an old one with a terrifying new twist. The international stalemate with North Korea continues into its seventh decade. A young, untested dictator is determined to prove his strength by breaking the deadlock. Like his father before him, he hangs his plans on the country’s nuclear ambitions. Until now, that program was impeded by a lack of resources. However, there has been a dramatic change in the nation’s economic fortune. A rich deposit of valuable minerals have been found in the Hermit Kingdom. Coupled with their nuclear capabilities, the money from this find will make North Korea a dangerous force on the world stage.
There’s just one more step needed to complete this perfect plan…the elimination of the president of the United States.
About the Author
Tom Clancy was the author of eighteen #1 New York Times-bestselling novels. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October, sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the bestseller list after President Ronald Reagan pronounced it "the perfect yarn." Clancy was the undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He died in October 2013.
Mark Greaney has a degree in international relations and political science. With Tom Clancy he is the coauthor of Locked On, Threat Vector, Command Authority, and Support and Defend. He has written four books in his own Gray Man series: The Gray Man, On Target, Ballistic, and Dead Eye. In his research for these novels, he traveled to more than fifteen countries and trained alongside military and law enforcement in the use of firearms, battlefield medicine and close-range combat tactics.
As is expected with a Tom Clancy novel, the strong geopolitics on display mimic a lot of recognizable real-world influences with deft shades of fictionalizing. Here, we see a North Korea that is attempting to extract an estimated 12 trillion dollars worth of rare earth minerals, a huge amount of hard capital that would allow them to buy nuclear weapons, as well as friends with influence in the UN. The ambitions of Choi Ji-Hoon, the young supreme leader of North Korea who has inherited the nation from his recently deceased father, is clearly influenced by real-life ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, right on down to the actions taken against his uncle. Author Mark Greaney, in true Clancy fashion, is playing in a very recognizable modern world to craft a superb of-the-moment technothriller.
Although I enjoyed Greaney's first solo outing in the Clancy franchise with this past summer's release of Support and Defend, I found the climax of that book to veer off into waters more typical of a James Bond story. In Full Force and Effect, though, we see Greaney, who co-authored several Jack Ryan novels alongside Tom Clancy, prior to that author's death late last year, back on solid footing and delivering exactly what is expected with the Clancy brand. This latest is a thick volume (but not quite as large as some previous installments) filled with ripped-from-the-headlines politics, espionage and spy-craft, and brisk action, along with the usual cast of characters in the White House and The Campus operators.
Greaney displays a solid command over his characters, and the story itself is a slow pot-boiler. When the action kicks in, to deliver an energetic centerpiece that puts President Jack Ryan himself in the cross-hairs, it's tense and perfectly executed. There's the usual deft, chess-like maneuvering of nations and their leaders, along with some smooth interplay between industry leaders, the Mexican mafia, and an Iranian bomb-maker for hire. The Campus operatives, which includes Jack Ryan, Jr., his cousin Dom, John Clark and Domingo Chavez, get their moments to shine and are well-integrated into this political thriller in a more street-level eyes-on capacity than we've seen from them in the past, yet they never feel ancillary to the plot.
For his first time at bat solo (or at least publicly), Mark Greaney proves to be the natural heir apparent to the Jack Ryan franchise, and a trusty steward to these characters. After Clancy's passing, I was rooting for Greaney to continue on with the Ryan family, and I now find myself eager to see how he moves these characters forward with future installments now that the baton has officially been passed. Now that he's charged full speed ahead with this latest installment, the big questions are, What comes next? and How soon can I read it?