Tom Clancy’s UNDER FIRE by Grant Blackwood

UNDER FIRE: a Tom Clancy novel
Grant Blackwood
June 16th, 2015
G. P. Putnam and Sons

Under Fire a Tom Clancy novel by Grant Blackwood has the return of Jack Ryan Jr. as the protagonist. Since Tom Clancy’s death his legacy is carried on with authors Mark Greaney and Grant Blackwood. Both continue the intense, thrilling, and realistic plots that Tom Clancy was known for. Whereas Clancy included a lot of technology in his stories, in this book Blackwood emphasizes the intelligence world.

The book centers on Jack Ryan Jr. who is coming into his own as an operative. While on an intelligence mission in Tehran Jack meets with his old high school friend, Seth Gregory. Later Seth disappears and Jack is told he is a possible traitor. It becomes imperative that he must choose between his loyalties to his friend, Seth, or to his county. Pursuing the truth leads Jack across Iran, through war-torn Caucasus, and deep into territory controlled by the aggressive Russian Federation. He is helped by an enigmatic Iranian woman, Ysabel, who becomes a loyal partner. They race against the clock to determine who is friend and who is foe.

Blackwood takes the reader deep into the geo-political world, bringing back memories of the Cold War. Russia’s turbulent relationship with that region, the home of many separatist groups, is brought to the forefront. This scenario has a Putin-like president of Russia forcefully trying to exert his influence over the nation of Dagestan, while Jack and others are attempting to assist in a successful coup.

Blackwood introduces a very compelling supporting cast of characters. Ysabel Kashani has an American mother and an Iranian father. She will become Jack’s new love interest and is described as beautiful, brave, smart, independent, witty, and resourceful. Jack wonders what motivates her to become an agent. Which piece of “MICE” is the reason for her cooperation: “money, ideology, compromise, or coercion?” He realizes she is unlike any woman he has met before and that her reasons are based on being a principled and loyal person. Throughout the book she steps up to the plate to help and rescue Jack, basically having his back.

The other character, Seth Gregory, is seen as cold-blooded, driven, and at times reckless, a man on a mission. He is a very complicated character whose motivations are based upon a deep familial secret. Emotional issues that are connected drive him to what he is attempting to accomplish. This leaves Jack to wonder if Seth is the same person he knew in high school or has he changed over time.

The author also wanted to give a heads up about the re-release electronically of his original series. It is a collection of three books whose main character is Briggs Tanner, an operative much like Jack Ryan Jr. These books have a lot of political intrigue and action.

Under Fire has a very intriguing storyline. As with any Tom Clancy novel it brings into focus current event issues. Not only is it riveting and gripping but also has a very realistic plot.

Elise Cooper