Customer Review

138 of 153 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Decline and fall of Clancy franchise, December 22, 2011
This review is from: Locked On (Jack Ryan, Jr. Series Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
Fair warning: this review has a spolier at the end. It's marked by ***SPOILER*** tag.

I've always enjoyed Tom Clancy's books. Red Storm Rising was my first exposure. Cardinal was next and it set the high watermark for his subsequent books. Hunt for Red October came closest along with Without Remorse, but his other books were never less than solid.

This book however is hard to like. It feels as if it was never edited, for flow, for clarity, for readability. It makes for a disjointed, jarring read. I understand that this was ghostwritten but even then, you'd think a competent editor would be able to shape up the writing up to Clancy's standard. It's a shame because the book does tell an interesting story. It just needs to be cleaned up.

But by far my biggest gripe of this book is the way the story is needlessly politicized. I can probably guess where Tom Clancy leans politically. I have no issue with it and I share a good portion of it. But his books never were bully pulpit from which to preach his politics. Even a powder keg issue like abortion, Clancy was careful to balance Jack Ryan's principled stance against it with his wife's feminist beliefs. All that went completely out the window with this book. What results is cliched and shrill depictions of domestic opposition that frankly detract from the story.

I'm sure there are segments of readers who will nod as they read along, completely agreeing with one-dimensional and polarizing representations. For them, I'm sure this would appear to be a great book. There will be others too who would find that distracting and unnecessary. As for me, I just find it lazy. Rather than trying to write a balanced book that can stand on its own merit, Clancy or the ghostwriter narrowed its focus and played toward a subset. If you're confident of your product, you don't do that. So it seems Clancy knew this book wasn't up to his standard. It's a shame.

***SPOILER***

I think much of what happens toward the end of this book is far-fetched and unrealistic. Others have talked about most of those so let me just focus on one aspect: Melanie Kraft. When she's first introduced, she was being browbeaten by her appointee superiors for showing initiative. This devastates her and makes her question her future at the CIA. Then she's headhunted out of CIA by Mary Pat when she reviews Melanie's memo and is lateraled to Counter Terrorism agency headed by Mary Pat. Yet toward the end of the book, she's a mole or a spy planted there by Alden to gather the dirt on Jack Jr. I just don't see the motivation here. She may be guided by ideology, but nothing in the book even hints at her sympathies. She may be guided by self-interest in her career, but she was headhunted by a legend in the intelligence community, and apparently has Mary pat's full support and attention. Surely, her career under Mary Pat would be brighter than what it would have been in the CIA. She may be interested in money, and the book mentions several times how she grew up wanting if not exactly poor. But there's simply no money man hinted in the book except for Lasko and there's nothing in the book that he's even faintly aware of her existence. Does she want power? Well, she's got Jack Jr.'s full attention, a son of a President-elect. What could others offer her? This is especially so at the end of the book where Alden is arrested and disgraced, with evidence against him presumably solid if Lasko completely sold him out, to be prosecuted in Ryan administration that would be less than sympathetic to Alden and his cohorts machinations against John Clark. Simply put, Alden has no influence anymore as a benefactor/mentor for Melanie.

Melanie was introduced -- quite insistently -- by Mary Pat for Jack Jr. Does that mean Mary Pat engineered the meeting in order to spy on Jack Jr.? Obviously not, since Mary pat is aware of the Campus, maybe not the full extent of it but knows enough, and the last phone call Melanie makes makes it clear that her controller is interested in the organization that employs Jack Jr, Ding and Clark. And Mary Pat as a traitor makes no sense anyway.

The trap Melanie sets is also, for lack of better word, stupid. She tells that Khan is alive, forcing Jack Jr. to excuse himself and make a call. But with Jack Jr.'s intel assets as good or better than Melanie's, especially with Pakistani assistance Jack Jr. can count on, he's going to find out pretty quickly that that's a bad intel. He's going to snoop on how Melanie's intel erred and he's going to find out that there was no intel from Melanie's agency that even hinted that Khan was still alive. That would lead inescapably to conclusion that Melanie made it up and lied to Jack. This would obviously out her as a spy.

This is just bad plotting, bad writing. I amended by review to one star and that's given grudgingly.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 13, 2012 7:29:46 PM PST
TheChief says:
I just finished the book and was also disappointed in the Melanie angle and apparent holes for all the reasons you listed. Not happy about that.

Posted on Jan 15, 2012 3:17:05 PM PST
Pritch says:
Excellent review. I also felt that the overt political preachiness detracted from the story, even though the views promoted are ones I generally agree with, I found the tone to be off.

The bit with Melanie being a mole also troubled me. A twist like this without support is not clever but rather bad writing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2012 7:36:55 PM PST
James Todd says:
Amen
Locked On

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 9:56:01 PM PST
Ruth Johnson says:
I agree whole heartedly. Melanie would have been obviously better off telling Ryan she was asked to spy on him in the first place.

Posted on Feb 2, 2012 12:18:43 PM PST
Wishinoo says:
jack jr. was present when khan was killed.

Posted on Feb 5, 2012 8:19:02 AM PST
I agree with this review. The "Melanie" element makes no sense. If it's being used to introduce the next book in the series....still as discussed above, it does not follow.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 8:08:24 AM PST
B. Johnson says:
If it was Laska himself that Melanie was calling at the end, then that makes a little more sense. Remember, he makes no appearance anywhere at the end, so his whereabouts are still up in the air.

Throughout the book, I'd thought that it would turn out that Melanie is the illegitimate daughter of Kealty himself, hence her reluctance to tell Jack about her family. (After all, it was Kealty's sexual improprieties that allowed Ryan to become Vice President in the first place.) But that last phone conversation got me thinking that it was Laska that was directing Melanie all along... and that perhaps HE is her father. 'Twould make for a good plot twist.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 5:43:10 PM PDT
I agree that this is not the Clancy of old and is a bit choppy compared to his early books, but it is still a good read. There are a couple of patches that seem to drag a little. The rest of the book reads well.
I have to laugh at the reviewers comments concerning the political slant of this book. It is apparent that Tom Clancy is pro-military and very pro-America. What does the reader want? A bunch of lawyers diving out of limos, armed with laptops and ACLU cards. Give me a break!

Posted on Apr 8, 2012 2:14:13 PM PDT
I have every hard back work of fiction that Tom has ever written. I usually rush right out and make my purchase, but this will likely be my last. I have no interest in domestic politics (abortions, GOP vs. Dems, the 11/06/2012 election in which Jack Sr. is re-elected) when it comes to techno-thrillers. Plus there were so many technical flaws, e.g. Ding does a double-tap with a .45 cal to a terrorists forehead: How is the second shot possible when the impact of the first shot would have definitely moved the target's head as it blew the back of the targets head off? And with the brain stem gone, the target would not have stumbled anywhere.

Posted on May 14, 2012 1:22:34 PM PDT
I totally agree with this reviewer. It is sad that Mr. Clancy has allowed his legacy to head this way. As a Catholic that was brought up in a conservative household, whose father was a detective, and who shares the same surname as his lead character, I am saddened by the one-sided argument that now pervades Mr.Clancy's work. Where is the humility of the Georgetown education that Jack received? The caricature description of Pavel Laska is incredibly laughable and lacks any depth whatsoever. I pursued an education in the field of foreign affairs because of the influence that Mr. Clancy's earlier work that brought light to the fact that the world of foreign relations is an incredibly complex game. Yet now it appears that if the plot becomes to difficult to express, the author's simply bypass the real world answers and head straight to the statements of he's just evil, he's just greedy, he's just stupid or lazy. Unfortunately, these simple sentiments lead me to think that of the author.
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