Saturday, 9 February 2013

BOOK: Clear and Present Danger, Tom Clancy (9/10)

Why did I read it?
Following on from The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Clear and Present Danger is next up in my odyssey through Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series. This story is new to me as I have never seen Phillip Noyce's 1994 film adaptation.

What's it all about?
In an election year, the US administration authorises the CIA to begin legally ambiguous covert operations against the Medellin Cartel deep inside Columbia, with intentions of impacting the import of drugs to the US. In parallel, the FBI uncovers and shuts down the Cartel's global money laundering scheme at a cost of millions of dollars to the drug kingpins. This provokes an angry response from the Cartel and endangers the lives of the men on the ground in Columbia. Previously kept out of the loop, newly appointed Deputy Director (Intelligence) Jack Ryan discovers the clandestine operation has been blown and works to get the teams out before it's too late.

Should you read it?
Clear and Present Danger is one of Tom Clancy's strongest works. All but one of the previous Jack Ryan stories were inspired by Soviet-American tensions but with the Cold War thawing out, Clancy turns his attention to the drug epidemic in the US in the eighties to good effect.

Covert operations in the jungle, assassinations, shady Presidential orders, drug kingpins, Clear and Present Danger is exciting from start to finish. Clancy's high level of technical detail is not as evident here, allowing the story to flow back and forwards from Washington to the jungles of Columbia.

Clancy introduces a wealth of characters throughout the book resulting in Jack Ryan's role being the most limited of all his books so far. The CIA operations ghost John Clark (played by Willem Defoe in the film adaptation) plays a far more prominent role this time around.

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