Book Review: Tom Clancy – Support and Defend by Mark Greaney

Published: July 22, 2014

“A decent page turner, but not for me.”

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What Is ‘Support and Defend’ About?

Support and Defend is a political thriller novel in the Tom Clancy universe.
After a terrorist attack on a former Israeli commando, Dominic Caruso, the nephew of President Jack Ryan is on a mission to find the man who is responsible for the death of his friend. The trail leads him to White House Staffer, Ethan Ross. Ross has enough information to destroy the U.S.’s intelligence effort. Declared FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ he flees with operatives to Venezuela’s General Counterintelligence Office. Caruso is on the trail, but Iranian Quds Force assassins, Hezbollah terrorists and the Russians are not far behind. This hunt takes him from the Georgetown neighbourhood to an island in Panama to the snowy Alps in Europe.

Why Did I Read ‘Support and Defend’?

I was interested in reading a political thriller. The novel I’m writing treads on the toes of a few genres, a political thriller being one of them, so a Tom Clancy novel felt like the optimal choice for a mixture of politics and action. But I’ll admit that I initially didn’t realise that this wasn’t written by Tom Clancy. Though he died back in 2013, I assumed this was an old novel being re-published. I soon realised that this is a campus novel which exists within the ‘Tom Clancy Universe’.

What I Liked About ‘Support and Defend’

You have to acknowledge the amount of research that has gone into building a realistic environment in which a plot such as this can be played out.
Going through the various departments in government office and their responsibilities was particularly interesting, although how much was fact and how much was fiction was difficult to gauge – which is credit to the author.
Mark Greaney was also clearly well informed or has a practical understanding of cryptology, and devised a believable method in which a whistleblower would go about leaking information – again this points to good research.
True to the genre, when the action kicks in (especially during the third act of the story) it flows very well. I got the impression that this was where the author was in his element. The final chapters in particular felt like short sharp bursts which would quickly switch from character to character giving you brief versions of their perspective. The speed it does this adds to the sense of action and everything builds to a satisfying conclusion.

What I Didn’t Like About ‘Support and Defend’

I thought I wanted to read a Tom Clancy novel and a part of me has enjoyed it. It’s a political thriller, it’s a spy novel, so you get all the ingredients which are intriguing to read. But this story ticks just about every cliche there is, and in some respect you switch off at the familiarity of the setups and the scenes that are described.
The writing in this novel isn’t particularly stylistic or memorable – it’s a very practical writing style. You get a simple overview in terms of the atmosphere, it’s not very poetic in it’s description. The characters get their own snippet of detail although again it’s all very cliche.
The dialogue also grated on me at times, people would say the longest drawn out version of what needed to be said, it was apparent that the author was guiding you through the thoughts of the characters rather than have him talk normally.
Several times in the story you are told information or taken through the events of a situation and then, a few chapters on, a character will recite what happened to another character. So you have to deal with characters figuring out things that you already know which isn’t particularly interesting. I suppose it’s a consequence of the writing style – but I would of liked a few of the chapters to be handled differently.
At times the detail was overkill, maybe I’m missing the point, but you’re given the names of computers including the specs and brand names as well as the full names of guns including the manufacturer and the year they were released. It felt like showcasing research rather description for the benefit of the story. I’ve since learnt that this is Tom Clancy’s writing style, suitably adopted by the author to fit into his universe – but it’s not a style I enjoy.

Good Or Bad?

Was this book any good? To be clear, I don’t think this is a bad novel. It’s actually a very good version of what it is, considering all the complexities and the plot evolving into something bigger and bigger with each chapter. It just wasn’t for me, it felt too familiar.
Would I recommend it? Maybe, if you want to read a political thriller revolving around a whistleblower, FBI agents and terrorists then this is worth a go.
Would I read it again? Nope.

Here are some other reviews:
Misery by Stephen King
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On Writing (A Memoir Of The Craft) by Stephen King
The Big Short by Michael Lewis

What’s on the list?
The Lafayette Campaign by Andrew Updegrove
The Hidden Legacy by GJ Minett
The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Paper Towns by John Green
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

 

Any suggestions?

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David P. Philip


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