Review: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth by George Galdorisi

Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Scorched Earth by George Galdorisi is a gripping thriller about an Islamic extremist who is on a quest for vengeance after his only son is killed, and it’s up to Op-Center to stop his lethal plot. (Available today!)

This thriller is set mainly in the greater Levant. Levant was the term originally used to refer to the region we now recognize as Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. Recent events have seen many try to re-establish the term when considering this geographical area in relation to ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIL, the L standing for Levant.

I wasn’t really sure about the origin of the different terminology, but thankfully, George Galdorisi’s Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth enlightened me without feeling too informational or dense. I am also thankful to Galdorisi for introducing me to a scorching thriller, from page one.

This is not is a warm, cozy, fireside read—the kind that you enjoy with your cup of cocoa nestling in your hand and your little dog or cat stretching out by your feet as the raindrops pitter-patter gently on your window pane. It is a screamer from the first page, keeping you on the edge of your seat—cocoa or not—as you eagerly turn the next page of this uncompromising, no-holds-barred rocket of a book.

It makes no apology for leaping straight into the action and weaving fact and fiction to make the argument that the President of the United States, whoever he or she may be next, will have to rely more and more on the National Crisis Management Center, known as the Op-center, to protect America for everyone. You are grabbed and pulled straight into the action—no subtle, well-drawn-out scene setting for Mr. Galdorisi.

The sound of the rocket-propelled grenade hitting the side of their Humvee was ear-splitting and shook their three-ton truck violently. Flames shot along the side of their vehicle. Underwood and his aide hung on as their driver tried to steady the burning Humvee.

Seconds later, there was a deafening sound as an improvised explosive device detonated under the lead vehicle. Underwood and his aide both looked up in horror as the lead Humvee leapt into the air just yards ahead of them and crashed down on its side and then rolled over on its back. Fire began to consume that truck as thick black smoke billowed into the air.

Their driver immediately started to take evasive action and gunned his V-8 turbo-diesel engine as he tried to drive around the destroyed truck in front of them. Suddenly, Underwood’s aide cried out, “Look out!” as an  AMZ Dzik “Wild Boar” infantry  military vehicle barreled straight for the right side of their Humvee. It was too late. The Polish-designed truck the Iraqi army once owned hit them square-on as Underwood and his aide tried to grab on to any available handhold.

Gravity took over and their vehicle teetered-then landed on its left side with a sickening thud. The last thing Underwood remembered before passing out…

President Wyatt Midkiff is in the Oval Office with his National Security Advisor, Trevor Harward. General Underwood has been kidnapped in or around the al-Bukamal region in Syria. The U.S. operatives on the ground, most of whom are one-hundred-and-thirty kilometers north-northwest of al-Bukamal, are the hands and eyes of the American President in Syria. It is time for the involvement of Chase Williams, director of the Op-Center, to get things moving towards a clean, tight conclusion. However, nothing is that simple.

Revenge clouds everything, and there is enough of that in this book to keep everyone who wants an eye for an eye, satisfied. The son of the lead terrorist is killed in a raid, so an Admiral connected to the act is kidnapped. The Op-Center takes control, but they did not expect the Admiral’s son, with his own special skills, to enter the fray—which he does with a steely determination that drives the central theme of this thriller.

Within a minute of his jumping into his hiding place, Dale Bruner heard noise and footsteps as the door to the second floor burst open, and people began running down the steps. It was clear to him now that the compound was being evacuated. Maybe the explosions and the breeching charge had done their work too well. He wanted to create chaos and confusion and give himself enough time to rescue his dad. Would his mission consist of nothing more than finding his father in an otherwise empty building?

Blood is thicker than water, and the concept of someone doing anything he can to rescue someone he loves—despite all of the rule breaking involved—is easy to understand and relate to. The human element of this recipe counterbalances the incredible amount of weapons, their descriptions, and what they can do, which inhabits this book from start to finish. All very informative and educational, but, for me, would be nothing without the emotional resonance captured by the interplay between people who actually care what happens to each other in this life.

It’s this element that Galdorisi gets just right, which led to me happily reading the book from start to finish without discarding it as just another shoot-em-up, blow-em-up manual. In its genre, it’s as good a book as any I’ve read in a long time. I even had to wipe a drop of sweat off my brow by the time I had finished reading it, just like an armchair warrior.


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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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