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Book Review – Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes

By Dick Couch and George Galdorisi; St. Martin's Griffin; Paperback; 384 pages

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes begins with attacks on four football stadiums; bogus, panic-inducing evacuation orders at others; hundreds of deaths; many more injured; further deadly plans; and the reactivation of Op-Center after a decade.

Who could possibly be to blame for all of this?

New York Giants fans.

Sort of.

You will have to read Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes to find out why, in this worthy revival of Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series after a hiatus of almost a decade. Sadly, the title would seem to hold more than one meaning, since series creator Clancy died in 2013, but then, none of the books in the original Op-Center series were penned by Clancy himself, either. This new iteration of the series is written by Dick Couch and George Galdorisi, both bestselling authors who last teamed up on the New York Times bestseller Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor. They also both come from a military background: Couch was a U.S. Navy SEAL and has written extensively on special operations. Galdorisi was a career naval aviator and has also written several fictional and non-fiction military-centered titles. Full disclosure: both have written for us before.

Out of the Ashes cover

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes; By Dick Couch and George Galdorisi; St. Martin’s Griffin; Paperback; 384 pages

This new Op-Center also has an all-new personnel roster, one that was still gaining characters at the conclusion of the book, and it will be interesting to follow them as they are developed. Out of the Ashes spends some time laying the groundwork for the novels that will follow, but nevertheless it is a taut, compelling thrill ride for the reader.

While there are technical details and much name-dropping of equipment – or, for that matter, clothing – for the miltech aficionado and interested reader to follow, the plot still hinges on people. Like most Tom Clancy novels, these happen to be people who are extremely intelligent, sometimes quirky, and supremely professional, but able to think far out of the box and willing to bend rules to the breaking point or beyond.

Ultimately, what may be one of the more interesting aspects of this new series and others is the operation of Op-Center by, with, and through the civilian leadership, the military, and the intelligence community in the age of Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, and civil liberties advocates going to the mattresses with the NSA. It will be interesting to see how the intelligence and hacking efforts of the book’s “Geek Tank” denizens might play out against such a real-life background.

Similarly, while the equipment and weaponry of JSOC operators can be, and are, described in some detail, no writer with a military background would think of describing the operators’ classified close quarters battle drill, and the reader is left to conclude similar reasons exist to explain why the information technology and techniques of the Geek Tank’s intelligence operations remain vague. But if one of the authors’ JSOC snipers prefers his weapon to be chambered in the Chey Tac .408 round for his work, the reader well might wonder what equipment a well-equipped hacker might employ. The writers are largely well-acquainted and comfortable with their subject matter, however, and it shows – from the professional relationships between the characters to the operational details and the inside jokes. Out of the Ashes provides all of the things a Tom Clancy reader demands from one of his books. Though coming from a new team of writers, this resurrected series looks to be in good hands.