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March 4, 2023

Red Winter by Marc Cameron ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

There's a traitor in West Berlin, a top secret plane crashes during a test flight, and a consulate employee is mugged but when her purse is returned nothing was taken but something was added. It is the height of the Cold War and CIA Analyst Jack Ryan is sent to West Germany to uncover the traitor.  When his search takes him into East Germany, can Ryan escape detection or will he be arrested, tortured, and possibly executed?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of Cold War era espionage novel Tom Clancy's Red Winter by Marc Cameron
December 2023; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 978-0593422755
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); thriller

I love Marc Cameron's books in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Universe. He writes about Jack Ryan, Sr. and while I enjoy the Jack Ryan, Jr. books Senior is my favorite as it was his stories that got me reading for pleasure again.

After college, when I had time to read for pleasure again, I had no idea what to read as an adult. Mom had a small collection of Jack Ryan books on the bookshelf and as I had enjoyed the movie The Hunt for Red October (in my head Jack, Sr is always Harrison Ford) I decided to pick up The Cardinal of the Kremlin. That's all it took and I was hooked on Cold War-era espionage novels. 

As far as I can tell Red Winter takes place after The Patriots Games where Ryan foils an Irish terrorist attack and The Hunt for Red October where Ryan negotiates the defection of a Russian submarine captain as these two incidents are referenced. But it is before Clear and Present Danger when he meets John Clark on a mission in South America. John Clark is in Red Winter but the two do not meet and there is a brief statement that indicates that Ryan has not met the man.

Speaking of characters that we know from the original books written by Tom Clancy, several make an appearance - Mary Pat, John Clark, and Dan Murray to name a few. While Mary Pat appears in The Cardinal of the Kremlin but I can't remember if Ryan met her then. It seems like he is meeting her for the first time in Red Winter when she is assigned as his field agent for the mission.

If you don't know, Tom Clancy often published books out of chronological order. I once read that he was writing multiple books and whichever one he finished first was the one that was published. He must of kept really good notes as there are often mentions in his stories of events that we will later read about in another book. 

As Cold War espionage novels are my first love I was super excited that we delved into a previously untold story from Ryan's past in Red Winter. Everything that made me fall in love with the genre is present in this book. The drama and the tension of never knowing who to trust and the real dangers of spycraft in a low-tech world made it nearly impossible to put this book down. 

Cameron definitely immerses us firmly in the 1980s. I couldn't help but smile when he describes Jennifer North's outfit - high-waisted slacks and a blouse with a popped collar (it was how he described the popped collar that really had me smiling as memories of my own popped collar days rose to the surface). 

If you have never picked up a Jack Ryan novel, that's okay. You can start right here. The jumping around the timeline that Tom Clancy started and has continued with Marc Cameron makes it easy to pick up any volume in the series and dive right in. 

I recently read that Marc Cameron is stepping away from the Jack Ryan Universe to focus on his own books. He has two series of his own - Jericho Quinn and Arliss Cutter. I will miss him and I hope the person taking over the Jack, Sr focused books in the series does just as good of a job as Cameron has.

If you love espionage novels where the spies rely on chalk marks and dead drops, then you need to read this book. 

Buy Red Winter at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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