Back and better than ever, Jeff Rovin’s latest Op-center thriller takes this rebooted series to another level.
In 1962, all eyes were on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and for good reason. During the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union transported nuclear missiles to Cuba, and even that nearly resulted in World War III. But, with the spotlight on Cuba and America’s answer to the provocative Soviet move, could a second convoy of nuclear weapons also have been transported without anyone noticing?
That is the set-up for Rovin’s latest novel, which opens with the Soviets also sending a second, under-the-radar caravan to a remote, frigid village in eastern Siberia that is not all that far from Alaska, where a silo was secretly constructed.
As the story jumps to the near future, the secret silo is still fully functional. Unbeknownst to anyone in the West, a deal has been reached between Iranian scientists and Konstantin Bolshakov, a Russian agent, and his arms-smuggling son, Yuri Bolshakov, to have the missiles moved via a large Russian vessel from their secure location in Siberia to China, and then ultimately to Tehran.
Back in the United States, at the Op-center headquarters (located in Fort Belvoir North, Springfield, Virginia) Kathleen Hayes is tasked with putting together a folder on Bolshakov and begins noticing concerning patterns in regards to the Russian’s movement. Simultaneously, Chase Williams and other Op-center personnel are working to verify the identity and motive of Amir Ghasemi, an Iranian general who claims to have defected and is now seeking refuge in America. There’s no way for Williams and company to know for sure that the general is who he says he is, and must first do their homework on him and the information he provides them, which points to a shady deal between Iran and Russia.
By the time the Op-center realizes what’s going down, they’re way behind the curve and scrambling to catch up, which is made even more difficult by a heated turf war between the off-the-books government agency, the FBI, and even members of the White House.
With nuclear weapons in play and the clock ticking, it’s all hands on deck in this sophisticated geopolitical thriller. . .
True to Clancy’s long-winded style, Jeff Rovin has written in more layers to this plot than Randy Parker’s mom piled on him in A Christmas Story. The real difference, though, is that while little Randy couldn’t move his arms or legs, Rovin’s story has a ton of fast-moving parts, and he continuously pulls the camera lens back in order to give readers a broad view of the conflict at large. There’s a lot going on, and the plot borders on being overly convoluted at times (especially with all the drama between the Op-center and the FBI, etc.) but Rovin somehow manages to toe the line without ever actually crossing it.
Overall, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: For Honor is a fascinating read with a little something for everyone. The lack of a true main character is similar to recent works from Rick Campbell (Trident Deception) and Walt Gragg (The Red Line), though it’ll likely draw some comparisons to Clancy’s 1983 masterpiece, Red Storm Rising. Even so, while it’s an unconventional style in today’s world of thrillers, Jeff Rovin’s colorful cast of characters makes up for the lack of a bonafide series protagonist.
Author: Jeff Rovin
Series: Op-center #15
Pages: 352 (Paperback)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) 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.