Featured Review: ‘Tom Clancy Act of Defiance ‘ by Andrews & Wilson


The thriller genre’s most recognized writing duo—Andrews & Wilson—team up for their first book set in Tom Clancy’s iconic universe, pulling out all the stops to weave nostalgia with a breathless plot on their way to delivering what can only be described as a worthy sequel to Hunt for Red October (1984) and the best Jack Ryan novel since Clancy was in his prime.

The Cold War is heating up again.

Opening in 1984, the story begins with a Star Wars: Rogue One-like scene where Dimitri Gorov plans to trade information for freedom by slipping a contact at the CIA a microfilm roll containing schematics and information about the Soviet Union’s most advanced and stealthy Typhoon-class submarine, Red October. In a twist of fate for Dimitri, he instead finds out that the Americans no longer need him or his information. Fans of Clancy’s iconic debut will understand why that is, while new readers learn that the submarine’s Captain, Marko Ramius, has defected and is now working with the Central Intelligence Agency.

In the present day, President Jack Ryan is well aware that Russia is up to something. The question is, what? The answer eventually comes, in part, from a lieutenant stationed at the National Martine Intelligence Center named Kathleen, or “Katie” Ryan, Jack’s daughter. Much like her father, Katie has the keen ability to see what others miss. To make sense of patterns, untangling knots of information. It was a skillset her father had honed when he was an analyst with the CIA. Now, Katie is pouring over photos of a submarine being slid into Dvina Bay, part of the White Sea that’s located on Russia’s northwest coastline. Working alongside Intelligence Specialist Second Class Pettigrew, Katie notes that the new submarine, code-named: “Belgorod,” is based on the Oscar II platform. There are some differences, however, ones that others seemed to have missed. For starters, the standard Oscar II subs typically have six torpedo tubes. The Belgorod has two, but they’re massive. The consensus within the intelligence community is that Belgorod is a “special purpose submarine” rather than a fast-attack sub. It’s speculated that its purpose is to act as a mothership for minisubs or undersea drones, which the Russians could use to disrupt communication cables in the Atlantic. The only thing that’s certain, is that Belgorod was put out to sea, and its current whereabouts are now unknown. But with the CIA confident in its Russian-placed sources, the only explanation for why nobody knew the sub was being deployed in the first place suggests that Russian leaders are keeping secrets from each other. And if that’s the case—there must be something special about the unknown, untraceable submarine.

Inside the Captain’s stateroom aboard the Belgord, all is revealed. Without spoiling the plot, a number of powerful and well-placed members of the Russian government have grown none too happy with the direction their country has gone under the current leadership. Hellbent on returning to the world stage with a bang and reaffirming their own standing as a super-power, a faction of the military has gone rogue. With their sights set on the United States, Russia is primed to finally enact their revenge, and after forty years of planning, finally take what is theirs . . . unless Jack Ryan can stop them. Again.

Brian Andrews and Jeff Wilson should take a bow. If I had to pick one word to summarize this book, I’d go with stunning. Imagine everything you loved about Hunt for Red October but with a more modern take. Cut out the excessive techno-jargon. Shorten the chapters. Imagine it faster, tighter, and even more intense than the 1984 novel, and you’ve got Act of Defiance. Yeah. Stunning. It’s a sequel, but not. Diehard Clancy fans will notice a number of easter eggs packed neatly into the story, ranging from old characters popping up to some of the dialogue that’s used and recycled. It pays homage to October but is also fresh, new, and brilliantly imagined. New motives drive the crew of Belgorod, and the stakes are even higher than before. It all just works and is so impressive. Even Katie Ryan, who has often been an overlooked character in the series, with Jack Junior getting far more screen time than his sister, is perfectly portrayed, flashing a mix of both her mother and father while still carving out a name for herself in this universe. The story itself begs to be read in a single sitting, and by the time I reached the end, I felt confident about two things. First, anyone who loves a good thriller, whether they’re a longtime fan of Tom Clancy or brand new to the franchise, will devour this book. And second, though they’ve had a ton of success and written a bunch of great books already, Andrews & Wilson were born to write Tom Clancy Act of Defiance.

Andrews & Wilson make their presence in the Ryanverse felt immediately with this riveting, heart-thumping adventure that reads like a throwback to the genre’s golden age. Releasing forty years after Clancy’s iconic thriller, Tom Clancy Act of Defiance is not only a worthy follow-up to The Hunt for Red October, it’s the best Jack Ryan novel since Clancy was in his prime . . . and is without question one of the best books of the year. Maybe even the decade.

Book Details

Author: Andrews & Wilson
Series: Jack Ryan #24
Pages: 560 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0593422872
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: May 21, 2024



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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