cover image Tom Clancy: Chain of Command

Tom Clancy: Chain of Command

Marc Cameron. Putnam, $29.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-593-18816-3

Bestseller Cameron’s admirable if flawed fifth Jack Ryan novel (after 2020’s Shadow of the Dragon) injects new blood into the late Tom Clancy’s signature franchise. President Jack Ryan’s efforts to push a protectionist pharmaceutical bill through Congress alarms greedy billionaire Harjit Malhotra, whose pending sale of his generic drug manufacturing company, which would increase his wealth tenfold, is under threat from the legislation. In order to distract the president from ensuring its passage, Malhotra hires Señor Gil, the founder of the Camarilla, a secretive cadre of ruthless mercenaries, to abduct First Lady Cathy Ryan, among other no-less-violent crimes. Cameron skillfully depicts the audacious and bloody kidnapping, but it’s all in service of weak and contrived motives, which a last-second gotcha moment makes superfluous anyway. Jack Ryan Jr., a member of the Campus, “an off-the-books quasigovernmental intelligence organization,” is mostly background noise, though Cameron introduces new Campus members, who are developed enough to merit their own series. Readers will hope for a more worthy foe in the next entry. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME. (Nov.)