Review: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Dark Zone by George Galdorisi & Jeff Rovin

Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Dark Zone by George Galdorisi, Jeff Rovin
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Dark Zone by George Galdorisi, Jeff Rovin
In Dark Zone, a race-to-the-finish thriller in the New York Times-bestselling Tom Clancy's Op-Center series, the brutal murder of an undercover agent reveals a plot to incite a full-fledged war between Russia and Ukraine.

Dark Zone is a tight, fierce thriller that jumps straight into the action from page one. Former ambassador Douglas Flannery is near New York’s South Street Seaport watching the sunlight dance on the East River—but he is not alone. The two know each other from another place, but this meeting is less about reconnecting and more about certain information that could be of great interest to the American government. Most of it has to do with the hotbed that is Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea. 

But Flannery and friend are not the only ones starting their day with a purpose. A Russian is in New York to kill. A successful and efficient assassin, he gets things done and finishes them his way. 

As Chase Williams drives to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at Fort Belvoir in Springfield, Virginia, he does not know that events in New York are about to pull him into a sequence of situations that are going to require every inch of his specific skills. 

Williams thanked her and waited until she had shut the door before setting two apples on his desk and going to the mini fridge to get the jar of peanut butter. He sat down and went right to the joint CIA Crimea report while he ate. The comprehensive report on Russian and Ukrainian troop strength, deployment, communications, and forecasts was refreshed each morning with HUMINT, ELINT and satellite surveillance.

The news was all on the factions opposing Russia. NATO was beginning a buildup that had previously been announced by SACEUR, the supreme allied commander in Europe, who was nearing the end of his three-year term. Legacy move, Williams thought as he saw where the four battalion-size groups were being sent, a total of four thousand troops. They were reinforcing existing positions well within Romania and Poland, put in place to show that NATO took its self-defense responsibilities seriously if Russia moved first. The key word was “if.” The orders linked to the deployment were what the DOD was now describing as “resistance-postured.” The two words, compounded, was a forceful way of saying they were strictly peacekeepers.

Naturally, Russia was opening new installations near the border for its own “peacekeepers” and their ordnance.

Thankfully, he is not alone. Brian Dawson, a 40-year-old operations director, is a former Army man. While lacking discipline, Dawson’s instincts are balanced by good judgment. He is also very charming, which can be useful in any field. 

All the characters in Dark Zone are strong and no-nonsense, whether on the battlefield or off. George Galdorisi and Jeff Rovin have produced a rip-roaring book that totally stays true to the style and methods of Tom Clancy’s storytelling.

An assassin reaches out to Douglas Flannery. The contact is a warning and a threat, letting him know there is little time to get things back on the straight and narrow as events are unfolding with a deadly speed and force. Douglas Flannery, in turn, makes contact with Brian Dawson. Russian armored columns are moving towards Ukraine. 

A crisis is in the making as international players deal some cards face up and keep others close to their chests. Who is on which side gets hazy as the bodies pile up and the crisis leaps from one serious situation to another. The military on all sides have allegiances and bonds to their political paymasters, but no bonds are incapable of being stretched or broken completely. The consequences of shifting allegiances or acting out of self-interest for those in the military or the government are like a flame to pile of dry wood. If it goes up, you better stand well back.

The Ukrainians, the Russians, and the Americans all have a vested interest in what is unfolding. Some are more active players than others in the building crisis, and the book handles the political and military details perfectly. It also underlines that no amount of political dealing, double-dealing, or military know-how can negate what can happen when men with weapons meet on the battlefield—whether it be the muddy, cold one of reality or the surreal one of the electronic web of cyberspace. Anything can happen, and in Dark Zone, it certainly does.

Read an excerpt from Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Dark Zone!


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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.

Read all Dirk Robertson’s posts for Criminal Element.


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    Reports suggest Ukrainian troops have made gains at several locations on the Russian front line in recent weeks.

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