Without Remorse is a thriller novel first printed in 1993 by Tom Clancy and is part of the Jack Ryan’s universe collection. Whereas not the first novel of the series to be published, it’s first in the plot’s chronology. The primary setting of the book is about the Vietnam War, in the American state of Maryland. The book focuses on the development of one of Tom Clancy’s most famous antagonist and recurring characters, John Kelly/Clark, while providing the character some back-story. The book serves to provide a history of John Kelly’s life, and explains how he turns into John Clark.
Avid readers of Clancy’s bestselling techno-thrillers ( The Hunt for Red October etc) know agent John Kelly, code-named Mr. Clark, as Jack Ryan’s ‘dark side.’ In 1970, Vietnam vet Kelly gets involved in a covert operation to rescue twenty American pilots from a North Vietnamese prison camp. Betrayed by somebody in Washington, the mission ends tragically in apparent failure. Clancy balances the army movements with a darkish narrative of Kelly’s tragic private life. While mourning the loss of his pregnant wife in a traffic accident, Kelly picks up a young hitchhiker named Pam, a prostitute and drug ‘mule’ fleeing her merciless masters. The pair falls in love and sets out to bring down the cruel drug masters, however a mistake Kelly’s part results in Pam’s horrible death at the hands of the vengeful drug lords. After his own recovery from a shotgun blast, Kelly begins methodically to murder his way through the drug cartel. Clancy attempts to rationalize this amoral crusade with passages of introspection by characters who’re either noble warriors or human scum, however the technique doesn’t wash. Although stuffed with failings of style and ethical judgment, this overlong, often melodramatic novel appears destined to follow its predecessors to the top of the bestseller lists. [ed note: which it did]