Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Four chapters may seem like a lot until you see the chapter to page breakdown, which I will hopefully remember to put into each article of this book’s review. This week we have:
- Chapter 1/Tuesday, 4:10 PM, Seoul: eight pages
- Chapter 2/Tuesday, 5:30 PM: three pages
- Chapter 3/Tuesday, 3:50 AM/Chevy Chase, MD: four pages
- Chapter 4/Tuesday, 5:55 PM/back to Seoul: three pages
And even then the last page isn’t always a full page. In fact in this quartet none of them are. The first chapter barely makes it, the second is only half a page, and the last two maybe a quarter of the last page has text on it. I don’t understand why Clancy or Rovin or whomever is the actual writer did this. These are just scene changes, but are they proper breaks? That’s one of the questions I’ll be keeping in mind as we review this book. So let’s get started!
The first chapter introduces Gregory Donald and Deputy Director of the Korean CIA Kim Hwan. We later meet Gregory’s wife Soonji, so he married a Korean woman. Greg is a former Ambassador to Korea, and now is Op-Center’s adviser for Korean Affairs, and apparently the press has him on their “target list”, which annoys his wife. The two men talk old times and because the author wants to establish they’re still badass they also have a knife fight. You know, like in action movies where they’re really just showing off but not actually trying to kill each other except for trying to kill each other knowing the other guy is going to match him move for move. Because what else do you do with someone you haven’t seen in two years? Once the testosterone fest is done and Soonji arrives Kim says how much he missed his old friend and leaves holding back tears. I’m wonder if there’s a plot point here. We also learn they’re preparing for the anniversary of South Korea’s first elected president, and that Kim’s choppers are grounded because they’re worried about messing up the sound bites. Of course so will a mass attack by terrorists and other disruptive agents but why worry about a little thing like bullets ripping through your body when CBS wants the audio just right? They also name drop actual news sources like CBS News but I’d have to research if those reporters named existed. This chapter at least ends on a good break.
From there we move to three men who don’t care about sound bites. I’m not sure why they changed boots in a room the homeless hang out in, but they do rig the sound booth to explode. I’m not sure if they killed the guy inside or just knocked him out. It’s fiction so it can go either way. They wait until after the sound check. One of them wears an eyepatch and the book just calls him Eyepatch, the other two not even getting a nickname. We don’t know yet if they’re North Koreans, terrorists, or what they are. Oddly, there’s an actual break between the first appearance of Eyepatch and his friends and meeting the two sound guys. The chapter itself ends okay. It is a separate enough scene that it didn’t necessarily have to go together with the first part.
It’s next that we meet Paul Hood and how he became director of Op-Center. We also get to see his smoking hot wife and he goes over his history before a cry from one of his kids keeps him from waking her up for some late-night loving. I find it interesting that as Mayor he was threatened by both the radical right AND the radical left (and somehow a bipartisan coalition of the two, although that could just be a joke Paul tells himself). It’s interesting to see both mentioned. Usually a writer only talks about the radicals of the political wing he or she isn’t a part of. So at least this political intrigue thriller is fair. It’s an interlude to what’s going on over in Seoul. I guess the break makes sense.
Frankly this last chapter could have been tied to the first one, but I guess the author has a need to stress the timeline of events. Gregory and Soonji are talking about his history with Kim. Apparently he raised Kim or something and they have a very close relationship. It might even work with the previous chapter as that also went into Paul’s relationship with his kids as well as his wife, and how they ended up with Op-Center. Then Soonji runs back to the bar because she lost an earring that her husband gave her. Given how these stories usually goes either one of them is about to die in the explosion we all know is coming or they’ll be separated and their arc will be about them trying to find each other. I’m hoping for the latter because I want a happy ending. They seem like a nice couple.
The first four chapters set-up the current events okay enough but it doesn’t really explain what Op-Center is. This is the first book and all we know is that Gregory and Paul work for the place, Paul as the Director (his assistant, Mike Rogers, is also mentioned) and Gregory as their expert on Korea. We also know that Op-Center, at least at launch, was under the press’ radar, but since they hound Gregory for working there I guess they know now. Hopefully somewhere in the next four chapters we’ll learn a bit more about what Op-Center actually is. We’ll find out next time.