Jack Ryan, now President of the United States, and his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., analyst and black ops specialist at “The Campus,” are enduring characters in the Tom Clancey series ever since “The Hunt for Red October” appeared in 1984. As fans know, the series has been written by other authors since Clancey’s death.
Mike Maden, the author of “Line of Sight,” has written a fair number of the books sharing the series with Mark Greaney and others in what has been an amazingly consistent run of political action thrillers that has maintained the Clancey Style, fast-paced plots, and love of military equipment. Fans of the series will appreciate the tangled plot in this yarn that focuses on Jack Ryan, Jr. as he goes to Bosnia look for a former patient of his mother (Cathy Ryan) who saved the girl’s sight and then lost track of her.
Other forces are, of course, at play, including terrorists who want to destabilize Bosnia’s fragile peace and an international crime organization that has placed “kill orders” on several people, including Jack. Unaware of either group, Jack focuses on tracking down Dr. Cathy Ryan’s former patient and friend Aida Curić. The disparate subplots of this story turn toward each other like an impending train wreck as other members of The Campus become involved in minor roles.
The weakness of the book comes from the fact that the subplots need time to develop and while they are brewing, the reader is treated to lengthy travelogue sections for entertaining Jack with others or alone. Every tourist destination but the kitchen sink in the surrounding area becomes a sightseeing stop, interspersed with a love interest that, while well handled, doesn’t reduce the author’s reliance on in-country experience and/or Internet research to pad out the story. Potentially, 25% of the text is the kind of travel and historical information we usually get in a Dan Brown novel.
The book reads well, especially if one skims the travel sections, and in spite of those sections, the conclusion doesn’t disappoint.