Random Review: Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney

This review contains no spoilers.

Book Name: Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect
Author: Mark Greaney
Series: #10 in the ongoing series featuring “Jack Ryan”
Publisher(s): Putnam Adult
Format(s): Hardcover/audiobook/eBook
Genre(s): Thriller
Release Date: December 2, 2014

Rating: 9/10

Officially Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect is Mark Greaney’s second solo effort in the “Jack Ryan” universe created by Tom Clancy, but after reading Support and Defend (you can see my review of the book right here) and now Full Force and Effect something is becoming apparent: Greaney likely wrote most of the last few “Jack Ryan” books on his own. It would be easy to mimic Clancy’s style in a book that doesn’t contain all the main players like Support and Defend did, but to write so similarly to the style Clancy used recently after no Clancy books for years and to hit the nail on the head so cleanly one can only conclude that the last three “Jack Ryan” novels, Locked On, Threat Vector, and Command Authority shouldn’t be listed as “with” Mark Greaney but instead “by” Mark Greaney.

And as a huge Clancy fan, I’m OK with that.

Full Force and Effect is a solid story, with all the plot twists and well written suspense sequences that readers expect from the series. The “in your face” bad guys are North Korean, but like Clancy before him Greaney has a “behind the scenes” guy that turns out to be the real issue for the good guys. Like Greaney did in Support and Defend none of the bad guys are “super villains”. Every one of them does things logically for their own reasons and are totally believable. I’m a big fan of antagonists doing things that make sense, and so far Greaney is batting 1.000 on that.

I did originally have an issue with the way Greaney portrayed the John Clark character in Full Force and Effect. Greaney didn’t really have Clark being as intense as Clancy wrote the character. It annoyed me because Clark is one of my favorite characters in the series and in Full Force and Effect there wasn’t any real attempt to give Clark that edge he used to have. After discussing the book with friends I brought that point up, and it was then that I realized I missed the obvious: with Clark getting older and with the events in his recent past Clark really isn’t that edgy guy anymore. Even though he still goes into the field he’s made the complete transition from operative to instructor. The end of Full Force and Effect supports that theory because eventually Clark really gives it to one of the antagonists like the “old days”. Now I’m looking forward to see what Greaney does with Clark.

Pet peeve alert: There are a couple scenes where motorcycles play a role. Why do authors just presume everyone knows how to ride one? It’s one of those things I just chuckle at when reading a book. I’d love to read a story where the bad guy doesn’t get away because he doesn’t know how to change gears. Or stop. I would probably laugh hard at that.

So I’m now convinced the “Jack Ryan” universe is safe in Mark Greaney’s hands. Of course now I feel compelled to pick up Greaney’s other books. I’m sure he won’t be unhappy about that.

Random Review: Tom Clancy Support and Defend by Mark Greaney

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
Format(s): Hardcover/Audiobook/eBook
Genre(s): Thriller
Release Date: July 22, 2014

Rating: 9/10

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.