Review: Tom Clancy Support and Defend (A Campus Novel) by Mark Greaney


About Support and Defend

One of Tom Clancy's most storied characters, Dominic Caruso, is the only one who can stop America's secrets from falling into enemy hands in this blockbuster new novel written by Clancy's longtime coauthor.

Over the course of three decades, Tom Clancy created a world alive with prescient action and remarkable individuals. In Tom Clancy Support and Defend, Dominic Caruso is presented with the deadliest challenge of his career.

Dominic Caruso. Nephew of President Jack Ryan. FBI agent and operator for The Campus, a top secret intelligence agency that works off the books for the U.S. government. Already scarred by the death of his brother, Caruso is devastated when he can’t save a friend and his family from a terrorist attack

Ethan Ross was a mid-level staffer for the National Security Council. Now he’s a wanted fugitive on the run with a microdrive that contains enough information to wreck American intelligence efforts around the world. The CIA is desperate to get the drive back, but so are the Russians and various terrorist groups all of whom are closer to catching the fugitive. Only Caruso stands in their way, but can he succeed without the aid of his Campus colleagues?

About the Author

Mark Greaney is the #1 NYT bestselling coauthor of Command Authority, Threat Vector, and Locked On, by Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney. He is also the bestselling author of the Gray Man series, including Dead Eye, The Gray Man, On Target, and Ballistic.

Mark lives in Memphis, Tennessee


My Thoughts

I was immediately saddened by the loss of Tom Clancy last October, only a few months before the release of his final Jack Ryan novel, Command Authority. I'd been reading Clancy books since high school, after discovering his work by way of Harrison Ford's adaptation of Patriot Games. The movie quickly became one of my favorites, so I had to read the book it was based upon, which then led to a long-term addiction.

The seven-year drought between The Teeth of the Tiger and Dead or Alive was a much too long dry-spell, but with a team of co-authors the master of technothrillers was back in top-form (in my eyes, at least). No sooner were fresh Clancy books on the shelf, than news came of his unfortunate passing.

Thankfully, not all is lost. Mark Greaney, who collaborated with Clancy on the last three novels, is helping to keep the franchise running and returns with a solo effort focusing on The Campus operator, and series regular, Dominic Caruso.

Ethan Ross, an intelligent NSC staffer guided more by his inflated ego than his principled ideals, finds himself in hot-water after an inter-agency effort to find the source of a classified intelligence leak. That leak led to the murder of a Mossad agent and his family, whom Caruso had become involved with during a series of training exercises. The data was pulled by Ross in order to assist a Wikileaks-like program, the International Transparency Project, and as the FBI's manhunt intensifies and the nature of the hacktivist brigade he works for grows cloudier, Ross becomes convinced that the only way to protect himself is to steal so much classified data that he then becomes too large of a target for the American government. As Caruso becomes more plugged-in to the investigation surrounding Ross, the more determined he grows in carrying out vengeance for the deceased Yacoby family.

Support and Defend is clearly influenced by the recent Edward Snowden affair, and Greaney proves to be a more than capable handler of Clancy's legacy. The story elements borrow heavily from a quite recognizable geo-political landscape as Ross attracts the attention of international forces in Israel, Russia and Iran, in addition to agents and agencies at home. Although the Ryan family is absent and unmentioned (although from the few references made to POTUS, it's clear Jack Ryan, Sr. is still sitting in the Oval Office), Dom is able to carry the weight of the story quite well and the book harkens back, in some respects, to earlier Clancy novels, like The Cardinal of the Kremlin.

While there is a clearly political element to the story (let's face it, it wouldn't be a Clancy book without that!) and the repercussions of the data leak pose a global problem to American Intelligence agencies, the primary focus of the story is on espionage and spy-craft, particularly early on when Ross gets a quick education in recognizing a tail and employing old-school trade-craft to alert his handlers within the International Transparency Project. The action is blazing and Greaney manages the same gripping narrative of previous entries, making the read a breezy, but completely interesting and involving, affair. He's also quite masterful in weaving together the disparate, multi-layered elements presented by the Transparency Project, Russian involvement, and the goals of Mohammed Mobasheri, an agent for the Iranian Republican Guard.

If there's one complaint to be had, it's that the epilogue takes a bit of a left-turn into debonaire James Bond territory, and the interaction between Adara Sherman and Caruso felt a little bit off and out of character, particularly for Sherman. Given their previously established relationship and Adara's professionalism, the resolution to their involvement together seemed forced, as if the material had been cribbed from any number of other generic spy-thrillers in an effort to needlessly spice things up a bit.

That quibble aside, I'm hoping Mark Greaney sticks around for the long haul and that he gets to make the Clancy universe his own. His involvement here provides a nice measure of hope that we haven't heard the last of The Campus recruits and the Ryan family. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the All-Star team will be making a comeback sooner rather than later. And you can be sure I'll be adding Greaney's own The Gray Man series to my reading list soon.

Buy support and defend at amazon

Source: The Official Tom Clancy Page on Facebook

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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