When the CGSL Orion, a massive Chinese oil tanker, explodes in a blast of white light while in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, questions quickly rise regarding the ship’s contents.
In Texas, Department of Public Safety trooper Roy Calderon makes what appears to be a routine traffic stop. Instead, the stop turns out to be anything but routine, when a frail young girl was rescued after being held against her will and used in a child sex ring. The feel-good rescue takes a sudden turn when it’s revealed that the girl is in possession of a thumb drive that belonged to Eddie Feng, a Chinese journalist with connections to players on both sides of the law, and the very man whom Jack Ryan Junior and the rest of the Campus operators are busy searching for.
When Feng’s drive shows a connection between him and a payment that was made the same day the CGSL Orion exploded, members of the Campus break into pursuit of the journalist, though their top-secret mission becomes intertwined with the FBI’s own investigation and search for Feng — complicating matters considerably.
As usual, a very hands-on John Clark leads the Campus’ mission with his calm, cool-under-pressure approach. However, the old operative–who is portrayed here much in the same way Clancy wrote him in Without Remorse (1993)–shows on more than one occasion that when the situation calls for it, he can still be extremely efficient and devastatingly lethal in the field.
One of the book’s more colorful scenes involves Clark sneaking into the house of a suspect, only to meet serious resistance from the man’s heavyset girlfriend, who attacks him and attempts to drag him into a pool. Clark, a former Navy SEAL, gives the woman what she wants, and happily takes their wrestling match into the deep end. Later, he quips, “I am old. But an old SEAL still loves the water.” It’s one of many really strong scenes that Cameron has written around Clancy’s best characters, taking full advantage of the deep roster he inherited.
As other seemingly random events occur around the world, President Jack Ryan and his administration start connecting the dots. With the upcoming G20 negotiations just around the corner, it’s obvious that the Chinese president is doing his best to handcuff Ryan and limit his options. While the Campus does their work in the shadows, Ryan must find a way to get ahead of President Zaho before the two countries engage in an all-out war.
Marc Cameron, who has long been one of the thriller genre’s most underrated authors, rises to the challenge of replacing Mark Greaney to continue Tom Clancy’s franchise in high-powered fashion. Going out of his way to alter his own writing style, Cameron does a convincing job adapting to Clancy’s overall style, including how he sets up his plot and creates threads for later on.
For a universe as vast as the one Clancy created, Cameron obviously did his homework. Not only is the plot well-written, but the characters all feel real and authentic, something diehard fans will no doubt appreciate. The Ryan in this book reads very much like the version portrayed by Harrison Ford, coming off as calculated and poised, but with a touch of panache. Always the smartest guy in the room, Cameron’s version of Jack Ryan is true to form, and a ton of fun to read.
When Clark isn’t stealing scenes, Ryan’s new special agent in charge, Gary Montgomery, shines as well. Montgomery and Ryan quickly form a “stellar” relationship, and the new lead Secret Service agent is likely to become a fan-favorite moving forward.
Expectations were high for Marc Cameron’s first Clancy novel, but the veteran author proved to be the right man for the job. Tom Clancy Power and Empire is a terrific, high-concept political thriller written with the same finesse and style that Clancy’s fans have come to expect.
Author: Marc Cameron
Series: Jack Ryan Universe #24
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.