And it's terrible.
The pages slide by with speed, as they normally too; he's a good writer, in terms of the mechanical assembly of words on the page. Where this falls over is in way too many places:
- Like Op-Center, he's moved away from the establishment of US military/intelligence into Stuff Wot I've Made Up. Far more so than Rainbow Six.
- All the characters are new. And identical. Okay, so the principals are supposed to be an FBI agent, a Marine, and Ryan's son. They all think, act and speak in the same way. As do all the supporting Good-Guy cast.
- They get everything right. There's no tension or drama at all. They just walk through a sequence of highly suspicious coincidences, guessing correctly more frequently than Mulder.
- The plot violates the characters. It's bad enough thinking, "ah, character A is trying to head character B towards a particular line of thinking about character C, because the author needs C in certain situations,", but it's much worse to discover that supposedly, character A wasn't even thinking about this at all, and it's purely the author beating at the plot and characters with a lump hammer, to get C into the climax unnecessarily.
- No-one - not one of the supposed best-of-the-best minds in this Intelligence scenario consider that having leading-character Ryan in the field as an incognito character might be a bad idea. No, of course, no-one's going to give him a second glance. After all, his father was only the US President for four years, so no bad-guys are going to recognise him, are they?
Finally, the setup - post-9/11 wish-fulfillment through highly illegal means - could make a good story, except that coincidence conspires to make it all work out all right (so, it's justified, then?), when having it all blow up in their faces would have made a much better story. Alas.
Okay, so I know that Clancy is a hugely gung-ho author, for whom all military personnel are heart-of-gold, do-the-right-thing pAtriots, and all politicians bar one or two leading characters are self-serving, good-for-nothing short-sighted scum, but honestly, I expect better than this.