Jack Ryan Jr. finds that the scars of war can last a lifetime in this entry in Tom Clancy's #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Twenty-six years ago, Dr. Cathy Ryan restored the eyesight of a young Bosnian girl who had been injured during an attack in the Bosnian War. Today, her son Jack Ryan, Jr. has agreed to track down the young woman and deliver a letter from his mother. What he finds shocks them both.
The helpless child has grown into a remarkable woman. Aida Curic is a self-possessed beauty with a big heart and an even bigger secret who runs a controversial refugee agency near Sarajevo. Jack finds himself deeply drawn to both her and her country, but soon finds himself in the crosshairs of the seething ethnic tensions and ancient blood feuds of the Balkans, the region of Europe where empires go to die. If Jack can't navigate the world of secret service agencies, special operators and local mafias to save Aida, Sarajevo will prove the be the fuse that lights the next world war.
Set in the shattered remains of the former Yugoslavia, Maden's second Jack Ryan Jr. novel in the Clancy franchise (after 2017's Point of Contact) struggles to give a coherent picture of the politics of that troubled region. Characters repeatedly fall back on some variation of the phrase "It's confusing," and it's doubtful that even Clancy himself could have explained it any better than Maden. Jack Ryan Sr. is now the U.S. president, and son Jack Jr. has taken over series hero duties as an employee of his dad's old secret organization, the Campus. Sent to Bosnia on a job for a cover organization affiliated with the Campus, Jack Jr. agrees to try to find Bosnian Muslim Aida Curic at the request of his physician mother. In 1992, 25 years earlier, his mother saved the life of then three-year-old Aida. While searching for Aida in Sarajevo, Jack runs across the Iron Syndicate, a nefarious secret agency whose various political factions are conspiring to use a false flag operation to trick the world powers into starting WWIII. Only a nostalgic love of these aging characters will induce readers to plow through the formulaic plot to the unsurprising ending.