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Locked On Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2012
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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“Tom Clancy has passed the torch to a new generation.”--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Clancy still reigns.”--The Washington Post
“The man who virtually invented this genre.”--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
A little more than thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore’s Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October—the first of the phenomenally successful Jack Ryan novels—sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it “the perfect yarn.” From that day forward, Clancy established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He passed away in October 2013
Mark Greaney has a degree in international relations and political science. In his research for the Gray Man novels, including Agent in Place, Gunmetal Gray, Back Blast, Dead Eye, Ballistic, On Target, and The Gray Man, he traveled to more than fifteen countries and trained alongside military and law enforcement in the use of firearms, battlefield medicine, and close-range combative tactics. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tom Clancy Support and Defend, Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect, Tom Clancy Commander in Chief, and Tom Clancy True Faith and Allegiance. With Tom Clancy, he coauthored Locked On, Threat Vector, and Command Authority.
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I started with Tom Clancy 15 years ago, and he's been my favorite author since then. I appreciate his style of writing, technical accuracy, his character building, and his art of story telling. I am not as fond of the co-authored novels or the other series that bear his name. While generally better than most of the genre, they are not up to par with the Clancy of the early Jack Ryan and John Clark novels.
I approached this book with a bit of caution, because with "Dead or Alive", I walked away with the feeling that Clancy just didn't care about the quality of his work anymore. I was encouraged that this was a book with Ryan Sr. in a prominent role, but discouraged by it being co-authored.
Overall, I like this novel. The story telling, while not historical Clancy quality, is good. It draws you in, keeps you turning the page, and gets your blood pumping at times. Those who know Clancy's style of writing and his attention to detail will certainly appreciate many parts of this story. I found myself with a smirk several times thinking "typical Clancy" or "that's ingenious". The last Clancy novel I read where I had similarly good thoughts was "The Bear and The Dragon". As far as Ryan/Clark co-authored novels go, this is better than the others but far from being great. It was a very low bar that the Clancy/Greaney duo had to rise above.
While it is "good", I have an expectation for anything with Clancy's name to be "great". So many of Clancy's earlier works fall into this "great" category for me: Red Storm Rising, Hunt for Red October, Without Remorse, Executive Orders, Rainbow Six. This doesn't fit into the same category. There are gaps in this book with unanswered questions, which has been typical for the last several novels. The big ones? Chavez has previously-unknown expert skills, and it isn't mentioned how he acquired them. Ryan's resignation from his first Presidency still isn't clearly explained, which is something I wish was in this book since it is about Ryan's run for the White House, and, honestly, was something I was looking forward to reading about. The old Clancy doesn't leave things unexplained like this, and he missed a prime opportunity to address this.
I have read enough Clancy to know which parts are written by Greaney in this novel, and they don't all flow well with the rest of the book. The difference in writing style, at times, threw me off and interrupted the story somewhat. The opening action sequence of the book is such an element. The difference in style is very apparent as the next element of the story is about Ryan Sr., and is clearly written by Clancy himself. I do not have an issue with Clancy co-authoring his books, I have an issue with the quality of those books. There is no reason a co-authored novel has to be of lower quality. It is undoubtedly hard work to make the work of two authors flow well together in a single cohesive story, and where Clancy fails is in the editing and proof-reading. The only explanation is that either Tom is losing skill, or he lacks the same level of intense passion he had before.
As for my rating, it goes a little beyond just the star value I assigned to it. I like this book, I feel it's better than just "ok". As far as entertainment value, I feel it deserves the "I like it" four-star rating. If I were to rate it on five star scale against other Ryan/Clark novels, it would be a 3. While this isn't the Clancy redemption I hoped for, I can now see an author at least trying to get back to his roots. I hope the next one is a solo novel that ties up some of the loose ends from the last few.
Final thoughts: I can't think of a reason to NOT recommend this book. Through it's flaws is a good story that is a page turner, and has some great moments with familiar characters. It leaves me glad I read it, and I'll probably read it again.
All too often there are specific contradicting details just a page or two apart which seems silly for a professional well developed novel. It has no impact on the overall story but when a BMW turns into a Mercedes or an UMP45 is suddenly a .40 caliber over the course of a paragraph or two it nags at my brain.
As in several of the other co-authored books, greater levels of leeway seem to be taken in each installment with the history and back stories of recurring characters.
Overall good enough read to be worth the couple of weeks I was picking it up to get in a few chapters here and there. They would probably avoid much of the outcry on these if they would stop trying to pass them of as TOM CLANCY novels. Just call it the Jack Ryan series or something to keep the history but stop being compared to the defining works.
And it's awesome for it.
No, seriously, I highly recommend the Campus books for fans of Tom Clancy and newcomers to his writing alike despite how incredibly bad it is in many places. No, seriously, there's some genuinely camp stuff in this book. We have ultra-liberal lawyers wanting to get the stand-in for Osama Bin Ladin transferred to a minimum security prison and a member of an illegal death squad not pursued by public charges because the President might lose Mexican votes. Locked On takes place in a ridiculously over-the-top universe which is closer and closer to a Republican James Bond's every day but which insists its more or less realistic.
Speaking as the flaming liberal anarchist that I am, Locked On was enjoyable from start to finish even if it was propagandist at times. I've heard far worse from my father, though, and the book is framed so much in black and white terms it's hard to take any of the areas I disagree with seriously. Readers who are more easily offended by such things should bear this in mind that Tom Clancy, or his co-author, is very prone to wearing his politics on his sleeve.
The premise of the novel is the Emir is still imprisoned by the United States government but is working through sympathetic liberal lawyers in order to pass information onto his allies about the Campus. This information leads directly to a warrant being issued for multiple world-saver John Clark as well as threatens to reveal his clandestine activities. Meanwhile, a terrorist leader plans to begin a military coupl in Afghanistan by "disappearing" one of the country's nukes to be used against a terrorist organization's target-of-choice. Jack Ryan Senior, through all of this, is trying to get elected President as he sees Ed Kealty as a fool unable to navigate these complicated political waters.
And, being a Jack Ryan book, he's right.
This is a fun-fun example of spy fiction if you have a high tolerance for Clancy's right-wing preaching. There's several great action sequences, lots of spy melodrama, and even an interesting romance subplot. I really like the new character of Melanie Kraft, a CIA analyst who is doing her best to deal with the politically charged atmosphere of the current administration, and hope to see her more in future books. There's plenty of characters, both old and new, getting to do outrageous bits of fun. It's a book which I can't take seriously as political fiction or a hard spy fiction but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
Tom Clancy does his usual techno-thriller accuracy but, as with Dead or Alive, the Campus defies all manner of assumptions about the realities of both law as well as technology. Someone in the FBI, CIA, or NSA would pick up on their existence, especially since they're data-mining all three for their crusade against terrorists. It's an escapist fantasy, though, so I'm more willing to let it slide this time. Likewise, I enjoy the fact John Clark is still running around various countries doing wetwork despite the fact he's sixty-five years old. The "good" characters are all likable and fun while the "bad" guys are all despicable and hateable--which is really what you want from this sort of book.
In conclusion, Locked On is far from Clancy's best work but it's still entertaining as hell. You won't find any great insights into how spywork is done in the real world, you should read the earlier Tom Clancy novels for that sort of insight (or do your own research), but if you're looking for an entertaining literary action movie then this is the place to look. I look forward to picking up more entries in the series to see where Jack Ryan Junior's story goes and I'm saddened by the fact Tom Clancy didn't get to finish it before his death.