It’s always fascinating to see how relevant Tom Clancy’s books are to what’s going on in the world. In this Op-Center book, Clancy takes the reader to Spain where tensions are threatening to boil over into an international crisis. As always, Hood and the Op-center operatives are in the thick of the action.
Conspiracy and Murder
The story begins with the recording of a secret meeting onboard an anchored yacht between a group forming a conspiracy and comes to an abrupt end when they’re blown up. In the meantime, two political liaison officers from Op-Center are sent to Spain.
Martha Mackell, a senior operative, is assassinated by the people she was sent to help. The person responsible is a power-hungry politician out to incite ethnic riots around the country so he can play out his own agenda in the midst of the chaos. His goal seems to be the incitement of another Spanish War.
It Gets Personal
As tensions are rising, Op-Center is reeling with the knowledge that one of their own was killed. They are doing everything in their power to work with local authorities to contain the spiraling situation. To make matters worse, the op-center’s director, Paul Hood, and its FBI liaison, Darrel McCaskey, are both dealing with personal issues that spill over into their work environment. Specifically, McCaskey’s ex is an Interpol agent who takes it upon herself to “right some wrongs” with unfavorable outcomes.
The personal issues Hood is dealing with seem to be yet another installment in how doomed his marriage to Sharon is—something that’s been an undercurrent since the first book. The personal intrigue lends an emotional element to the novel without taking away from the action. The character development in this book was better than most of the others in the series, and this helps the story be more compelling and “human.” Since one of their own met her demise, the crew has to delicately navigate and help save a nation from a possible insurrection.
A Balanced Book
Just like the Op-Center books before it, Balance of Power has a winding plot that unfolds with plenty of page-turning events. It has all the high-tech of a typical Clancy book, with a bit more care taken in bringing the characters to life to support the narrative. This is by far not the best action-thriller in the world, but the story is solid, and it’s easier to become invested in how things turn out for the characters than most of the other books in the series so far.
As with the previous Op-Center book, this novel was a bit on the slow side. However, the story is still entertaining, and the slightly tedious parts are easy enough to get through. There’s never a lack of political dynamics and action. If you’re invested in the saga, this is a must read.