Jack Ryan Jr. is Back – Review of Tom Clancy “Target Acquired” by Don Bentley

The title of my review isn’t meant to imply that Jack Jr. has been MIA but to my way of thinking he has been conspicuous in his absence for quite some time. Fear not because he is back and as prone as ever to finding trouble, or maybe it’s that trouble finds him. I don’t know but what I do know is author Don Bentley has captured the ‘do the right thing’ essence of Jack and it’s a welcome sight to be sure.

Gritty Rapid Fire Action

Jack is in Tel Aviv doing a quick in and out favor for Ding Chavez. Since Jack was a history major, Israel has always been on his bucket list of “must see” places. Random circumstances being what they are, Jack finds himself in the role of Good Samaritan twice in the same day saving the life of a young mother and her autistic son. Foreign nationals are behind the attempts on Becca’s life and Jack decides to do what he can to even up the odds. But who is the enemy? The Chinese? Russians? Iranians? Lebanese? Who are they and what do they hope to accomplish?

In “Target Acquired” Jack again bites off a bigger chunk than anyone could chew and winds up in a heap of trouble. The storyline is meticulously plotted with all the  necessary backstops and the characters are fully fleshed out, even the bad guys. Jack seems to be a human pinball, caroming off one obstacle after another while continually triggering the TILT mechanism. I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout the last third of the story. The action was rapid fire and riveting and yes, brutal.

I kept thinking how much can the human body and psyche withstand before something essential to what makes us human snaps? But Jack pushes through the  unspeakable pain and perseveres. Since this is a work of fiction we need not question his feats of strength and stamina. Just accept them for what they are; a symbol of grit and courage and the fine entertainment it offers.

Like many Tom Clancy fans I have been underwhelmed by the several attempts to pick up the Jack Ryan Jr. mantle and run with it. They weren’t terrible but they lacked authenticity and the derring-do that is the hallmark of Clancy’s legacy. So I’m happy to offer my congratulations to author Don Bentley for nailing the character of Jack Jr. Finally! Five stars.

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