Book review: Red Winter

Red Winter

Marc Cameron

Little Brown Book/ Penguin Random House

Review: Karen Watkins

It’s 1985 and the Cold War is burning hot. East Germany is under the control of Russia.

In West Berlin, Ruby Keller, who only recently began working as an entry level employee for the State Department, is mugged in a failed robbery attempt.

The would-be robber collapses and dies right in front of her but no one sees how it happened.

When it turns out that he was murdered, and an unidentified woman finds and returns her purse with a computer disc in it that was not there before, she informs the CIA and is immediately interrogated.

Meanwhile, Nighthawk, a top secret aircraft fitted with new technology to avoid radar detection, crashes in the desert in Nevada. The Soviets have a man on the ground who will go to any lengths to salvage a piece of the wreckage. The FBI secures the site.

In East Berlin, a mysterious person contacts the CIA with espionage plans in return for asylum.

If you have the time to read this book at a couple of sittings you will thoroughly enjoy it.

If you, like me, have limited time, you will need to concentrate as the cast of characters is numerous, all 33 of them, including a small part for Jack Ryan, CIA liaison to M16 in London, who is called in to locate and determine if the defector is legitimate before the East Germans do.

This story takes place in Jack’s past when he was a young, up-and-coming CIA analyst.

The character index at the beginning of the book, a staple with any Jack Ryan thriller, was key, and I often referenced it due to the interpersonal relationships that are possibly an attempt to develop backstories of the key characters. If so it didn’t work. Neither did the ending of how they take care of the bad guys.

Another challenge is the numerous technical terms for firearms, aircraft and more, plus acronyms aplenty peppered throughout the text.

American novelist Marc Cameron is best known for the Jericho Quinn series of action adventure novels.

He is also the author of six Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan novels of writers who took over for Tom Clancy when he died in 2013.

This book failed to capture my attention and it felt like a chore to finish.

No one can plot like Tom Clancy and in my opinion this book was a big mistake.