Top positive review
The series is slipping
Reviewed in the United States on November 3, 2018
The Tom Clancy series doesn’t crackle like it once did. It’s strong on some things it always was - weaponry, technical details, the occasional inside bit of spookery - but drags in others.
This one revolves around Jack Ryan Jr.’s trip to the former Yugoslavia - first to Slovenia, where he’s doing work as part of his financial analyst cover, and then to Bosnia. It’s a personal mission there: his mother, the First Lady and an eye surgeon, had operated on a little Bosnian girl in Sarajevo during the Yugoslav Civil War in the 1990s, can’t forget her, and wants to track her down and see how she’s doing. She asks Jack to see what he can do while he’s over there.
Jack’s search leads him to Sarajevo just as bad guys plot to plunge Bosnia into yet another war.
It’s hard to keep track of all the operators, a Balkan stew of simmering trouble: Serb, Croat, Bosnian, Turkish, Chechen, Syrian, Russian, Bulgarian, Czech, Muslim fanatics, nationalists, cops of different countries. One has a dastardly plan to start a civil war.
The girl’s name is common, and Jack runs into a lot of dead ends, before he finally gets a lucky break. But there is more to the girl Aida - now an adult and, of course, stunningly beautiful - than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, a crime syndicate has put out a contract on Jack, sending extremely talented killers to take him out.
The action at the end is meritorious, as Jack, of course, heroically and at the last minute (the last 15 seconds, actually) foils the killers’ plot. But it plods before that. We see, and learn the complex history of, the land through Jack’s eyes, as well as his burgeoning romance with Aida and the work she does with refugees. But it’s mostly a personal trip for him, making for less than riveting reading, until the action heats up near the end.
No spoilers, but the end didn’t really hang together for me, most specifically the different sides of Aida.