The intrigues of spies & counter-spies

by Sebastian Lim

Title: Full Force And Effect

Author: Mark Greaney

Publisher: Berkley

ISBN: 9780425279779

Year Published: 2014

Former CIA officer and current president Jack Ryan has to deal with the threat of North Korea building a nuclear arsenal that will be a threat to the United States in this thriller.

After co-authoring a number of political thrillers with the late Tom Clancy, Mark Greaney continues the author’s legacy by creating a realistic portrayal of political, corporate and private espionage. Jack Ryan is in the midst of his second term as the President of the United States but remains as focused on sifting through critical intelligence data as usual.

In this novel, it is the lurking problem of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) going nuclear that is at the centre of the action.

The president’s eldest son, Jack Ryan Jr, also faces the North Korean threat while working for the privately funded Campus, alongside other standby Clancy characters Domingo “Ding” Chavez, John Clark and Dominic “Dom Caruso. A previously used character of the series, Adam Yao from Threat Vector, is back in this book for a big role.

When a former CIA case officer is stabbed to death in Vietnam, the Campus operators start digging into the circumstances and soon find themselves squaring off with former FBI Counterintelligence officer Wayne “Duke” Sharps, now running Sharps Global Intelligence

Partners. In Duke’s employment are former intel operators from England and France who are helping the DPRK develop an outlaw rare earth mine which could potentially be worth trillions of dollars and provide the necessary financial base for developing a nuclear cache. The DPRK is willing to do anything to obtain nuclear weapons, even attempting an assassination of President Ryan.

The North Korean leader is portrayed as a crazy man bent on building up nuclear weapons for his country. His ways of executing his own officers by feeding them to hungry dogs, burning them to a crisp, and his intense paranoia makes him appear like a comic book villain, yet unfortunately quite realistic compared to what we see in the real world.

But the serious, fleshed-out North Korean characters are the director of their mining operations and the director of their foreign intelligence agency. They are portrayed as flawed, human, and realistic characters living in fear of their leader and working together to save their lives (and that of their families) by any means necessary while deceiving their own Supreme Leader.

With all these elements in play, Greaney delivers a story reminiscent of the older Clancy novels by showing evidence of a deep understanding of spy-craft, current events, and the natures of the people who work in the shadows, at the desk and on the front lines.

The chapter on the attempt on President Ryan’s life in Mexico City by the North Koreans using an Iranian bomb expert is suspenseful and exciting. Will the president survive the bomb blast?

A taut storyline with familiar characters facing new challenges. Greaney’s attention to detail and ability to weave all the subplots and the buildups will keep the readers of this genre hooked till the end.

Sebastian Lim is an experienced journalist and editor who now runs his own book review blog — The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of The Weekly-Echo