Intrigue, Espionage and High-Tech Complexity in Tom Clancy’s Op-Center
This is the first book in the 12-book Op-Center series created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik, and written by Jeff Rovin (the main writer), Dick Couch, and George Galdorisi. The books are about a National Crisis Management Center (op-center), an organization in charge of taking care of domestic and international crises. The op-center consists of a team of operatives that uses intelligence, surveillance, and defensive technology to get the job done, with the center’s director reporting directly to the president of the United States. It is the government’s port of call when it comes to intelligence and crisis management. As can be imagined, this is an excellent stage for a range of gripping stories in typical Clancy style.
As the Crisis Unfolds
A terrorist bomb is detonated at the Kyongbok Palace in Seoul during a South Korean celebration in honor of the anniversary of its first president’s election. The attack results in hundreds of casualties yet no one takes responsibility. As alarms are raised in America, speculation is rife. Did outraged North Koreans plant the bomb? Could they be making some kind of power play against South Korea? Could it have been South Koreans with an anti-reunification agenda? Or is it one of the two groups posing as the other to shift culpability? Regardless of who the culprit is, the real question is about how the United States will respond.
Cutting Teeth the Hard Way
As the pace intensifies, op-center director Paul Hood becomes increasingly pressured to unravel the mystery. The pressure is on to quickly get to the bottom of the incident. Having been operational for just six short months, the op-center has never faced an international crisis before. The center sets out to tackle the situation using its top team: a general, IT specialist, former ambassador, and psychologist. They soon make a discovery that could change the world as we know it forever. Each of the 40-something hours of the crisis is depicted in a short chapter focused on an event as it unfolds. It is a great start to the series and makes the work well worth a read.
A Different Kind of Clancy
In comparison to other Tom Clancy novels, Op-Center is considerably shorter yet more full of punch. It is action-packed every step of the way but slightly less violent than many of his other books. In typical Clancy style, the story is multi-layered and keeps readers on their toes as the story rapidly shifts from one locale to the next. It is important to remember the circumstances that the characters are in as the plot shifts from part to part. Unless you have a penchant for language, keeping some of the Korean names straight could prove to be a bit challenging. This, however, becomes irrelevant when you begin to master the personalities and histories of the main characters and as they really begin to come alive.
An Intricate Climax
Besides being an entertaining read, the book has a clever ending that leaves the reader pondering about the underlying threads of the story. You cannot help but wonder about the true identity of the bad guy in the story and whether all that is truly need to keep the peace Is just cooperation.