Author:
Tom Clancy (with Mark Greaney)

Title: Locked On

Publisher: Putnum

After a seven-year hiatus on the Jack Ryan storyline Tom Clancy re-launched his popular series with his book Dead or Alive. It largely served as a transition book, moving his familiar characters into new positions and professions in order to write more bestselling techno-thrillers. The reaction was mixed; fans were excited to reengage with the series, but disappointed in the pace and style of the co-authored book.

In his new follow-up book, Locked On, Clancy proves that he still has what it takes to write a smart, tense, highly engaging novel. Perhaps it was the choice to bring in a different co-author (Mark Greaney instead of Grant Blackwood), or maybe the characters were in place so that Clancy could deliver more adrenaline-fueled storylines.

Jack Ryan has the least amount of action amongst his friends. He is running for another presidential term and trying to harness his anger at the man who currently holds the office. His campaign seems on track until his opponent digs up some possibly damaging stories from Jack's years of field work with John Clark.

John is left to try and track down the source of the leak and try to clear both his and Jack's name, hopefully before the presidential election. He is on his own in Europe, relying on the survival instincts that have kept him alive for so many missions but wondering if his time is finally up now that he has both good and bad guys trying to track him down and silence him.

The rest of the team that makes up The Campus, a top secret intelligence agency created by Jack Ryan during his first presidential term, is busy dealing with terrorist organizations and plots to overthrow the Pakistani government. Jack Ryan, Jr. is allowed to do the field operations that his father once did, while providing sharp analysis that appears to be a family trait.

Some of Clancy's own political opinions rise to the surface in this novel. What the author thinks of the current presidential administration seeps through the pages, including what should be done with terrorist prisoners (try them in military court without giving them the same benefits that an American would have for a trial). His support of clandestine information gathering with real people, like CIA operatives, shouldn't be set aside just because of new technologies like satellite imagery and unmanned drones.

The action in Locked On is pretty much non-stop, making the book very hard to put down. The individual storylines and missions weave together in over 850 pages with a clever, fulfilling, if not a bit unbelievable ending. Clancy even sets up both Jack Sr. and Jack Jr. with hooks of where he will go in the next story in this franchise.

If you were disappointed in Clancy's last attempt to get back into this genre, don't give up on him yet. "Locked On" is definitely dialed in.

*This review first published 1/3/2012