Thursday, 7 February 2013

BOOK: The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Tom Clancy (6/10)

Why did I read it?
Book number four of my Tom Clancy odyssey.

What's it all about?
Cardinal of the Kremlin combines a cold war race to develop Strategic Defence Initiatives (so called 'Star Wars' by the media) with arms reduction initiatives, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and most prominently, the exposure of the highly placed US intelligence source in Moscow, Cardinal. Once exposed, Jack Ryan develops a plan to rescue the source without interfering in the political battle taking place at the very top of the Soviet Politburo.

Should you read it?
An expert at what he does, Clancy manages to weave the various plot elements into a reasonably taught thriller. Although the book takes it's place in the Jack Ryan chronology, Cardinal acts as a direct sequel to Clancy's first book The Hunt For Red October, with Captain Marko Ramius making a reappearance. Jack Ryan actually only plays a small role for the majority of the story, only coming to the forefront for the final act.

The story is definitely most absorbing when in the USSR, either following the Cardinal, his US contacts or the KGB's counter-intelligence officers, especially once the Cardinal becomes compromised or when concerned with the political scheming of the Politburo's top officials, including the KGB chief, for whom the discovery of an American source is political gold-dust. I found the 'Star Wars' laser weaponry side of the story and the detail in which Clancy describes it considerably less interesting and nothing more than a distraction from the cut and thrust of the espionage action. 

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