The Cardinal of the Kremlin was Tom Clancy’s fourth bestseller in a row.
It follows what by 1988 had become Clancy’s signature blend of Cold War politics, espionage, military technology, and the presence of CIA analyst Jack Ryan.
The “Cardinal” of this novel is a Colonel Mikhail Filitov, thrice awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal for service in battle; unknown to Ryan, he’s been a CIA spy for 30 years.
Ryan is in Moscow as a technical advisor for arms negotiation. There he stumbles across information that the Soviets are very close to having a working, missile-based laser system.
Far to the east on the Afghanistan-Russia border, an Afghan freedom fighter glimpses a flash of green light that proves the Soviet technology works. He passes his observation along to the CIA along with documents taken from Russians he and his men slaughtered.
Clancy runs multiple story threads simultaneously, switching the scene from one continent to another, and the focus among dozens of characters.
You can read Cardinal for relaxation, but you can’t relax and read it. That is part of its attraction. Clancy expects each reader to do his/her duty.
You won’t want to disappoint him.
The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy
G. P. Putnam. ©1988. 543 p.
1988 bestseller #1; my grade: A
©2019 Linda G. Aragoni