Tag Archives: cia

the american

The American (Ryan Kealey #1) by Andrew Britton

From Goodreads:

At thirty-three, Ryan Kealey has achieved more in his military and CIA career than most men can dream of in a lifetime. He’s also seen the worst life has to offer and is lucky to have survived it. But being left alone with his demons is no longer an option. The CIA needs him badly, because the enemy they’re facing is former U.S. soldier Jason March.

Ryan knows all about March–he trained him. He knows they’re dealing with one of the most ruthless assassins in the world, a master of many languages, an explosives expert, a superb sharpshooter who can disappear like a shadow and who is capable of crimes they cannot begin to imagine. And now, March has resurfaced on the global stage, aligning himself with a powerful Middle East terror network whose goal is nothing less than the total destruction of the United States.

Teaming up with beautiful and tenacious British-born agent Naomi Kharmai, Ryan intends to break every rule in order to hunt down his former pupil, whatever the cost to himself. As Ryan puts together the pieces of a terrifying puzzle, and as the elusive March taunts him, always staying one step ahead, he discovers the mad man’s crusade is personal as well as political and Ryan himself is an unwitting pawn.

With the clock ticking down and the fate of the country resting uneasily on his shoulders, Ryan is caught in a desperate game of cat-and-mouse with the most cunning opponent he’s ever faced, one who will never stop until he’s committed the ultimate act of evil a man who is all the more deadly for being one of our own.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

An interesting debut novel and pretty well written. It is heavily influenced by the many CIA novels set during the Cold War but set against the backdrop of modern terrorism and America’s conflicts with Middle Eastern states.

While it was well written I found it pretty unoriginal. It was like he was following a successful but predictable formula. Although there was nothing surprising in the plot I look forward to seeing how the author develops and how he develops the main character as the series progresses.

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clear and present danger

Clear and Present Danger (Jack Ryan #5) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

Colombian drug lords, bored with Uncle Sam’s hectoring, assassinate the head of the FBI. The message is clear: Bug off!
At what point do these druggies threaten national security? When can a nation act against its enemies? These are questions Jack Ryan must answer because someone has quietly stepped over the line.
Does anyone know who the real enemy is? How much action is too much? Which lines have been crossed? Ryan and his “dark side”, a shadowy field officer known only as Mr. Clark, are charged with finding out. They expect danger from without… but the danger from within may be the greatest of all.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Yet again this author suffers from putting way too much material into one story. It’s at least 30% too long and needed slimmed down considerably.

The first half was pretty good and I really enjoyed the switch of scenery from bad guy Russian spies to bad guy Columbian drug cartels. I also really enjoyed the introduction of some new characters, such as Chavez and Cortez and the reintroduction of characters such as Clarke and Dan Murray.

The second half lost focus though. There was too much made of the disappearance of the special ops teams and trying to find out where they went and too much detail in the initial deployment and redeployment. I really did enjoy the hunt element of the second half though, the battles with the cartel soldiers and eventual evacuation of the special ops teams.

Overall a good story. The military and weapons details are lost on me but I understand that appeals to a lot of Clancy’s readers. A nice change of scenery and definitely worth a read.

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the cardinal of the kremlin

The Cardinal of the Kremlin (Jack Ryan #4) by Tom Clancy.

From Goodreads:

In a rolling sea off the coast of South America, a target disappears in a puff of green light. In the Soviet hills of Dushanbe near the Afghanistan border, an otherworldly array of pillars and domes rises into the night. To the two greatest nations on earth, no contest is more urgent than the race to build the first Star Wars missile defense system, and no one knows that more than the two men charged with assessing the Soviets’ capabilities: Colonel Mikhail Filitov of the Soviet Union, an old-line warrior distrusted by the army’s new inner circle of technocrats, and CIA analyst Jack Ryan, hero of the Red October affair.

Each must use all his craft to arrive at the truth, but Filitov gets there first — and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Because Filitov, code-named Cardinal, is America’s highest agent in the Kremlin, and he is about to be betrayed to the KGB. His rescue could spell the difference between peace and war, and it is up to Jack Ryan to accomplish it — if he can — as, in a breathtaking sequence of hunter and hunted, Filitov’s life, and Ryan’s and that of the world itself literally hang in the balance.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve been disappointed by many of the previous books in the series but this was very good. There is much more of a storyline and much less mind numbing technical and military detail. Altogether there are three strands to the story with a CIA, Russian and Afghan element. I would have liked to have seen more development of the Afghan storyline but it’s there for a plot line purpose and just serves that.

Refreshingly in this story Clancy spends much less time degrading Soviet society and highlighting its faults. It still comes across as a corrupt and faulty society both socially and politically but more as part of the story and not rammed in the reader’s face. Additionally, the book is chock full of strong characters and a good number of these are on the Soviet side this time. The most notable is the old war hero Misha but the young soldier Bondarenko and the KGB investigator Vatutin are also excellent characters. In many ways the Soviets are the stars of this book while Ryan himself is in more of a supporting role.

I also particularly enjoyed the espionage of the first half of the book. There is a great sense of pace and tension as well as a good insight into the operations of both the CIA and KGB spy networks, how the agents operated and how they passed along information while staying undetected. Considering the disappointment of Red Rabbit this was a much better and more enjoyable book.

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red rabbit

Red Rabbit (Jack Ryan #2) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

Long before he was President or head of the CIA, before he fought terrorist attacks on the Super Bowl or the White House, even before a submarine named Red October made its perilous way across the Atlantic, Jack Ryan was an historian, teacher, and recent ex-Marine temporarily living in England while researching a book. A series of deadly encounters with an IRA splinter group had brought him to the attention of the CIA’s Deputy Director, Vice Admiral James Greer—as well as his counterpart with the British SIS, Sir Basil Charleston—and when Greer asked him if he wanted to come aboard as a freelance analyst, Jack was quick to accept. The opportunity was irresistible, and he was sure he could fit it in with the rest of his work.

And then Jack forgot all about the rest of his work, because one of his first assignments was to help debrief a high-level Soviet defector, and the defector told an amazing tale: Top Soviet officials, including Yuri Andropov, were planning to assassinate the Pope, John Paul II.

Could it be true? As the days and weeks go by, Ryan must battle, first to try to confirm the plot, and then to prevent it, but this is a brave new world, and nothing he has done up to now has prepared him for the lethal game of cat-and-mouse that is the Soviet Union versus the United States. In the end, it will be not just the Pope’s life but the stability of the Western world that is at stake. . . and it may already be too late for a novice CIA analyst to do anything about it.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I really struggled with this. The writing is slow and ponderous. The storyline has so much potential for excitement and intrigue with the CIA v KGB to bring across a high level defector and based around an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. However, Clancy manages to make it dull and boring.

There is far too much boring detail, far too much to and fro on inconsequential details and far too many characters with minor roles that make it difficult to follow. The main characters are unlikeable. There is a consistent arrogance from everyone towards the culture and traditions of everyone else that gets wearisome very quickly. Ryan and his wife have a particularly condescending attitude towards British life and portray what appears to be a serious personal issue of Clancy’s towards the NHS that is jarring and doesn’t contribute to the story.

The only likeable character in the whole story is Oleg, the Russian defector with a developing conscience around the assassination of the Pope and his desire for a better life for his family.

I struggle to see why this book became a #1 bestseller. I wonder what the competition at the time was?

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patriot games

Patriot Games (Jack Ryan #1) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

It is fall. Years before the defection of a Soviet submarine will send him hurtling into confrontation with the Soviets, historian, ex-Marine and CIA analyst Jack Ryan is vacationing in London with his wife and young daughter, when a terrorist attack takes place before his eyes. Instinctively, he dives forward to break it up, and is shot. It is not until he wakes up in the hospital that he learns whose lives he has saved — the Prince and Princess of Wales and their new young son — and which enemies he has made — the Ulster Liberation Army, an ultra-left-wing splinter of the IRA.

By his impulsive act, he has gained both the gratitude of a nation and then enmity of hits most dangerous men — men who do not sit on their hate. And in the weeks and months to come, it is Jack Ryan, and his family, who will become the targets of that hate.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the second Jack Ryan novel published by Tom Clancy but it’s the first chronologically and prior to “The Hunt for Red October” which was published first. This was confusing at first as Ryan is still a teacher and only starts working with the CIA during the story.

This is quite a long book. It’s split into three connected storylines that chronicle Jack Ryan’s interaction with a fictitious extremist Irish terrorist organisation that is trying to destroy and supplant the IRA who they feel is too moderate. It initially starts in London when Ryan prevents an attack on the Royal Family. It then moves to the USA when Ryan and his family return home and the main terrorist antagonist looks for revenge.

Overall it was a very enjoyable book. There is still quite a lot of military and intelligence terminology but nothing like Red October and much more readable. He also manages not to fall into the “Oirish” trap with the Irish characters. It’s written and set in the mid 80s so the technology and politics are definitely of its time.

Like Red October this book was also made into a very successful film starring Harrison Ford.

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jack ryan: shadow recruit

From IMDb:

Jack Ryan, as a young covert C.I.A. analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Having read the reviews my expectations we’re low enough going into this but it’s actually a pretty good movie. Typical action movie fare but well done. Decent story that storms along at a good speed and four good actors that work well together and are well cast for the parts they play even if the Russian accents are more Hollywood than Moscow. Definitely worth watching.

jason bourne

From IMDb:

The CIA’s most dangerous former operative is drawn out of hiding to uncover more explosive truths about his past.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The 5th and most likely final, installment of the Bourne Series of movies. It follows on directly from The Bourne Ultimatum and recall requires knowledge of at least the first three movies in the series. If you have watched and enjoyed them then this one will come as no surprise as it keeps to the same story and characters.

It’s far from predictable though. The quality of production and direction is superb and the story moves at a perfect pace that keeps the action fast without losing control of the story. It all leads up to an excellent final confrontation proceeded by a great car chase and face to face action scene.

The two main characters are fantastically portrayed by Matt Damon (definitely one of my favourite actors) and Tommy Lee Jones but are very well supported by CIA agent Alicia Vikander and asset Vincent Cassel

If this is the final Bourne movie then it’s a very fitting end to an excellent series of movies.