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02 July 2014

Mark Greaney: Support and Defend

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Should Tom Clancy's work be continued?
Clancy's last three major novels before his death were co-authored with Mark Greaney. For some time Clancy's work had gone off the boil and but  IMHO the last two books, THREAT VECTOR and COMMAND AUTHORITY  took us back to something nearer to Clancy at his peak, probably because Greaney took a primary role in the collaboration.

I started this book with some trepidation because of the obvious question - can (and should) Mark Greaney carry on the Tom Clancy heritage? Many Clancy fans will think that Greaney has the writing capabilities to continue the tradition, others will think that things should be left to rest and we should remember Tom Clancy at his best with the earlier books in the Jack Ryan series. Your view on this book will be the decider.

The plot of this book is a mini Edward Snowden affair about the leaking of sensitive classified information. Ethan Ross a mid-level staffer for the National Security Council is a bored narcissist lusting for attention. He believes that he can get that attention when he passes what he thinks is minor classified information to a the International Transparency Project, a Wiki Leaks kind of organisation.

Dominic Caruso, member of the 'The Campus', a top secret intelligence agency that works off the books for the U.S. government, is on a training mission to learn Krav Maga martial arts from a former Israel Defence Forces officer, Arik Jacoby, now living in India. Caruso is devastated when he is unable to thwart an attack by Pakistani suicide terrorists which kills his trainer and his family. It soon becomes clear that the attack is linked to a breach of classified digital information showing both Jacoby's status as leader of the Israeli raid on a Gaza flotilla which killed Al-Qassam operatives and that he is currently living in India.

The US Government starts a huge witch hunt led by the FBI to find who has leaked the information. Ross goes to his ITP contacts for help when the FBI suspect that he was involved. They persuade him to access more very sensitive classified espionage information to use as leverage against possible criminal charges for leaking classified information.

From then on everything seems to go wrong for Ross when he goes to the Venezuelan embassy for asylum using some of the information for protection. They take him to Panama where the chase becomes more hectic and improbable with the FBI, the Israeli's, the Venezuelans, as the Panamanians involved, as well as undercover Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard agents. Last but not least, the Russian SAS and the US Army join the fray in earnest to get their hands on the valuable information. Surprisingly the CIA and Al Qaeda don't get part of the action this time.

Caruso also gets involved in the chase almost on his own, like a Don Quixote, with a beautiful medically trained female transportation director Adara Sherman acting as his Sancho Panza. With some help from the Campus, Caruso attempts to track down Ross almost single handed, using scuba equipment and a motorbike instead of a horse, plus of course a satellite phone. As Alice said "Curiouser and curiouser!"

What is my answer to the question I posed earlier? While Greany may have the writing skills to create adrenaline-packed action, it is too over-the-top and unbelievable to qualify to take over the Clancy banner. It was difficult for me to give this book more than a 2.5 star rating, rounded up to 3 stars where half stars are not allowed. While this will be the last "Tom Clancy" book that I will want to read, I hope that Greaney continues to write successful books on his own account.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing an Advanced Reading Copy of this book for my honest review.

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