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review 2018-05-09 14:57
Acts of War (Op-Center #4)
Acts of War (Tom Clancy's Op-Center, #4) - Tom Clancy,Jeff Rovin,Steve Pieczenik

Decades of repression by several nations has led to a unprecedented unification of militants looking to create a nation for the Kurds and their plan is so audacious that it could result in a war ranging from the Arabian Sea into Eastern Europe and possibly the fracturing of NATO, Op-Center must manage to contain this crisis even as members of their own team are held hostage.  Written by Jeff Rovin, but named for Tom Clancy, Acts of War is the fourth book of the Op-Center series which sees a well-planned attack by Kurdish militants send Turkey and Syria on the verge of war as the action spans from Eastern Turkey to the streets of Damascus and the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.


A four-man team of Syrian Kurds cross into Turkey, attack the Turkish guards then are able to commander a military helicopter that they use to destroy the Ataturk Dam.  Nearby General Mike Rodgers heads a small team testing the first Regional Op-Center—ROC—that will allow for better crisis management, deciding to scout the attack on the Dam with a Turkish liaison officer, they are captured by three of the Kurds which leads to the capture of the ROC when they attempt to rescue the duo.  Meanwhile the strike of the Dam has cause Turkey to mobilize it’s forces south to the Syrian border, the Syrian mobilize theirs to the north, Iraq begins making moves towards Kuwait, and other nations begin stepping up their military including Greece which might ally itself with Syria.  With a possible general war in the Middle East about to break out the President sends Op-Center head Paul Hood to Damascus to negotiate with Syrian President.  Hood sends Op-Center’s military team, Striker, to Israel so as to set up a rescue of the capture ROC before the President decides to destroy it and the hostages in a missile strike before the Kurds can use US intelligence for the rest of their plan, including a coordinated attack in the heat of Damascus which puts Hood in the crossfire.  Through both luck and the calling in of various favors around the region, Op-Center is able to resolve the crisis before it escalates into general war but not without a price.


Released in 1997, Acts of War used the volatile political landscape of that time—and save the good relationship between Israel and Turkey of now—as the setting for this action thriller.  Unfortunately a lot of the book comes down to the stupidity of General Mike Rodgers’ essentially boyish need to be a cowboy instead of an actual military officer and then his actions against the Kurds while being a hostage the endangered all the other hostages before murdering a Kurd who tortured him after he had been captured by Striker.  The positives of the book such as the well thought out plan of the Kurdish militants to create a general war, the Israeli spy of Druze descent who scouts the Bekaa Valley and helping the now Brett August lead Striker team’s action in combat, and the analysis the various nightmare scenarios of a general war in the Middle East are all outweighed by everything dealing with Rodgers, including a Presidential pardon for killing said Kurd with no ramifications like say retiring, negates everything.


Acts of War, like several previous Op-Center books, has an intriguing plot idea that is undermined by poor writing though amazingly for different reasons than previous book.  Yet this book is a rather frustrating and somewhat disappointing read, more so than Mirror Image, because it shows Jeff Rovin is knowingly doing bad writing on an element in one book when he’s showed before or shows later that he knows how to write good on that same element.

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review 2018-04-15 14:49
Review of Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
Without Remorse - Tom Clancy

An entertaining read from Ton Clancy that tells the back story of John Clark and even a glimpse of a young Jack Ryan.  The plot twisted together two main stories about American POWs in Vietnam and the drug war back at home.  It had all the traditional Clancy techniques and conservative viewpoints, but as a reader you know that going in so I enjoyed it.  My plan was to try and read all of the Jack Ryan books in order, rereading quite a few, and I will certainly do that over time.  This was a good one to start.

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review 2018-03-10 02:09
Games of State (Op-Center #3)
Games of State (Tom Clancy's Op-Center, #3) - Tom Clancy,Jeff Rovin,Steve Pieczenik

The demons of hate are reemerging in the newly united Germany and finding root in various countries around the world linked through the shadowy recesses of the Internet and fueled by a businessman looking both for profit and triumph of bigotry, yet Op-Center must find a way to prevent chaos from exploding around the world.  Games of State is the third installment of Op-Center that bears the name of its creator Tom Clancy, yet is written by Jeff Rovin.  From Germany to the streets of the U.S. to southern France, the action and thrill are palpable as the race to prevent the rise of a new wave of hate.


Gerard Dominique, a French billionaire financier and computer game mogul, is uniting hate groups throughout Europe and the United States to destabilize numerous countries and allow France to once again lead Europe.  Part of his plan is to use hate filled video games downloaded onto the Internet and well time hate crimes in various locations to bring about political and societal chaos.  Yet the unplanned actions of other hate leaders resulting in a kidnapped young American woman needing to be rescued, the hate-filled enticement towards the son of Op-Center’s Striker team leader over the Internet, the unexpected meeting of Op-Center head Paul Hood with his former fiancée now a Dominique employee, and Dominique’s own hubris results in his plans failing to materialize.


Released in 1996, Games of State brought together many political and cultural threads to create the backdrop of very riveting political thriller with action-packed sequences as well.  However well the set up and the ideas were, the use of formulaic tropes that are standard in one-hour TV dramas and paperbacks undermined the potential of a book.  What was most disheartening was the ease in which I was able to see which newly introduced characters would result in instantly being important in a 100 or 200 pages just when they were needed, these and other plot twists decreases the enjoyment of the book.  Though one can argue that my complaints are to be expected in this type of book, I would argue that one doesn’t mind if the tropes are written well.


Games of State had an intriguing plot idea, but was undermined by poor writing decisions that turned what could have been a good page-turner into an okay read.  Though the book’s execution was poor, it was a better read than the previous Op-Center installment, Mirror Image, even with my rating being the same for the both of them.

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review 2018-01-25 02:32
Entertaining, but a bit too many themes.
Tom Clancy Power and Empire (A Jack Ryan Novel) - Marc Cameron

Power and Empire (Jack Ryan Universe #24), Marc Cameron, author; Scott Brick, narrator

Absent the excellent narrator, I might not have enjoyed this book as much. Scott Brick added excitement and clarity with his presentation. The story, however, seemed overly detailed and overly dramatic, as many are today. Every time it seemed as if something was going to be revealed, the author introduced a tangent to increase the sense of mystery. However, frequently, in many ways, It seemed unnecessary and lacked credibility.

Like other novels attributed to Tom Clancy, this one had multiple themes. It starts out with what appears to be an unrelated incident that is eventually tied in, late in the narrative. There is an explosion on the the flagship of China Global Shipping Lines, Orion. Fingers are pointed at different actors, China and America, as the culprits.

From there it goes into drug deals and sex trafficking. A dangerous Chinese gang called the Triad is actively involved. John Clark, the head of The Campus, becomes deeply engaged in the search for the girls captured because of his own personal pain and memories. The FBI becomes involved, as well.

There is apparently also an attempt by “the gang of four”, men in high positions in the Chinese government, colluding with others, to overthrow Joe, the Chinese leader, while setting up America to take the blame for the chaos through the staging of various terrorist incidents, among them, the attack on the Orion.

On a separate level there may also be plans to assassinate the sitting President of the United States, Jack Ryan, Sr., at an upcoming meeting in Japan.

Subtly, other themes are introduced, such as, gun rights, treason, spying, and gang activity. There is a great deal of subterfuge as cartels and the powerful work their mischief.  

Finally, an additional theme is introduced when Jack Ryan and a Japanese agent pursue the bad guys together and a romance blossoms between them.

In the end, all of the ideas presented in the search for those engaged in illegal sex trafficking, committing acts of terror, treason and/or espionage are knitted together. It is up to the reader to decide if it is plausible.


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review 2018-01-24 00:54
Mirror Image (Op-Center #2)
Mirror Image - Tom Clancy,Jeff Rovin,Steve Pieczenik

Old guard elements in Russia look to reconstitute the old Soviet Empire, however their plans run into a stumbling block in the form of Op-Center and their Russian counterpart.  Mirror Image is the second book in the Op-Center series bearing that bears the name of Tom Clancy, but was actually ghostwritten by Jeff Rovin.  From the historic Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg to the streets of New York to the frozen wilderness of Siberia, the action spans across the world as forces and individuals battle to reignite or prevent a new Soviet era.


Nikolai Dogin, Russian Minister of the Interior and loser of the Presidential election, convinces his old guard coalition members to go along with “Plan B” which amounts to a military revolution to reignite the old Soviet Empire.  One of his most important pieces in the newly created Operations Center (ROC), a Russian crisis management center exactly like Op-Center, but its head General Sergei Orlov might not be the figurehead Dogin hopes.  The old guard’s plan begins with a bombing in New York to keep the United States out of Eastern Europe, but results in Op-Center zeroing in on its Russian counterpart that is Orlov and his second-in-command (a Dogin flunky) battling for control.  Yet Dogin’s dealings with the Russian mafia prove his undoing as a shipment of drug money to pay off Polish, Belarussian, and Ukrainian officials becomes the focus of the ROC and Op-Center on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


Written in the mid-90s when post-Soviet era Russia provided a lot of potential to the political thriller genre, Mirror Image took an interesting tack that could have provided an very good book however there was many unfortunate mistakes that made this seem a “set up” book for later events in the Op-Center series.  The first was the blurb on the back cover of the book itself which stated the hardliners wanted to return Russia to the days of the Czar, within the first 15 pages of the book this statement is proven false and things are just starting.  There are father-son issues dominating the Russian side of the book as Orlov and his son’s past that would play a major role at the book’s climax, which was very much telegraphed from the onset.  An important character dies at the climax, which is pretty much telegraphed throughout his point-of-views.  However, the most irritating thing with the book was that characters “magically” got information or knew things that the story didn’t support them knowing or characters didn’t act like they should of (Orlov not getting into contact with the new President seems to be the most glaring).  Although most of the book seemed paint-by-the-numbers, the British spy network subplot was the best of the book.


Mirror Image seemed to be a book meant to add elements to the overall “world” of Op-Center to set up future stories as Rovin relied on telegraphing the story’s direction and creating in-story plot holes.  While Sergei Orlov and British spy Peggy James are the two stand out characters, it’s not saying much because previously establish characters were in a holding pattern and other new characters were two-dimensional.  This book could have been very good, it just average and almost subpar.

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