This review does not contain spoilers.
Book Name: Tom Clancy Support and Defend
Author: Mark Greaney
Series: Nominally first book in the Campus series
Publisher(s): Putnam Adult
Release Date: July 22, 2014
When Tom Clancy passed last October there were questions if his series would continue under a different writer. Clancy’s latest collaborator Mark Greaney was an obvious choice to do so if the Clancy estate was interested, so it was no surprise Greaney was pegged to continue the saga of Jack Ryan. How will Greaney do taking over Clancy’s most famous character? Well, considering most credit Greaney for Clancy finally getting his fastball back it should be easy for him even though he’s now fully writing them under his own name. But for now we don’t officially know the answer because in Tom Clancy Support and Defend Ryan does not appear and there are only brief mentions of him.
The main character in the book is Dominic Caruso, the nephew of now President Jack Ryan and operative for “The Campus”, an quasi-civilian organization that uses information “borrowed” the usual suspects of US intelligence and acts on it in ways government agencies are not generally allowed to. Technically Caruso is an FBI agent, although he’s not assigned any duties and information about him is hard to come by. Caruso’s twin brother Brian was killed off in Dead or Alive, and the effects of that are still causing Dom issues. The assassination of a friend and his family, which almost kills Dom too, only adds to his mental anguish.
Unlike many thriller writers Greaney doesn’t treat his character like a super hero, performing death defying acts one after another. Greaney instead treats the Caruso character like he is, a well trained operative that knows when he has to take chances and when he should lay low. That’s how Clancy generally used Jack Ryan, and Greaney has obviously learned that lesson.
The plot of Support and Defend, while simple, is very Clancy-esque. It’s a standard bad guy vs good guy story, with a couple of twists and turns to keep the reader involved but not enough to make a convoluted plot that’s hard to follow. Like Clancy, Greaney has every character acting as they logically would without the sudden gimmicky actions other authors use to drastically change directions in the story.
The “bad guy” in the story is Ethan Ross, who works for the National Security Council and is giving secrets over to an organization of whistleblowers. As in every Clancy plot there’s a “badder guy”, and in this case it’s Iranian Mohammed Mobasheri, who infiltrates the whistleblower organization in an attempt to get an “inside man” to download sensitive intelligence data. Greaney does not treat Mobasheri like a caricature, nor does Greaney go out of his way to make him evil. He writes Mobasheri as a guy just doing the job he was assigned, and to me that adds significant credibility to the story.
Support and Defend is well plotted, well written, and a very good read. Greaney has taken the first step in Clancy’s shoes without tripping. Hopefully that’s going to become a trend.